'Poly Pantry’ Helps Nearly 100 Students, Faculty and Staff Overcome Food Insecurity, Following Spring 2019 Rollout
UTICA – SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) is celebrating the first step in its fight against food insecurity among students, faculty and staff since the opening of “Poly Pantry” at the start of the spring 2019 semester.
Since January, the campus-based food pantry has provided nearly 100 students, faculty and staff with 3,775 pounds of food and 1,281 pounds of toiletries, according to Auxiliary Services’ Diana DiPrimo who assists in coordinating orders and donations.
The most popular items ordered and fulfilled this semester, DiPrimo said, were laundry detergent, toilet paper, shampoo, crackers, cereal, and granola and snack bars.
SUNY Poly Director of Community Standards and Leadership Development Megan Wyett Lennon said the grab-and-go foods provide convenience and nutrition for busy students to stave off hunger and be able to concentrate on coursework.
“It’s a topic that’s becoming a lot more talked about and we are proud to meet the needs of students,” she said. “We make a lot of assumptions like, ‘They couldn’t’ possibly have food insecurity.’ We just don’t know.”
Aside from focusing on what students need for themselves, Lennon says “Poly Pantry” is happy to provide items other family members may need, like diapers and childcare items.
SUNY Poly volunteers who helped make “Poly Pantry” a reality are planning for the mission to include more educational programs for students in the future to discuss topics including food budgeting and preparation.
“We want to help students learn how to plan, budget and, prepare their meals so that it’s not just ‘here’s food,’ but it’s a longer process for them to learn these life skills.
Donations for “Poly Pantry” have been provided by Walmart Inc., Utica-based Compassion Coalition, Dominion Energy and faculty, staff and students.
“Poly Pantry” is part of an initiative launched by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to help provide SUNY/CUNY students with “stigma-free access” to a food pantry. Nearly 40 percent of SUNY Poly students during the fall 2018 semester were eligible for Federal Pell Grants; eligibility of Pell Grants is based on a household income of $30,000 or less.