for Three years of work, data collected show that Ithaca College Bronte Store It continues to attract beneficiaries in need of food, but the lack of volunteers reduces its ability to serve the community.
Pontry Store Created in 2019 with help Lacey Family Foundation Named after Dave Bronte, former CEO of Ancillary Services, it provides food to campus members in need As well as some non-food items such as toiletries and health and beauty supplies.
Food pantry partnership with Southern Food Bank (FBST) requires him to collect data on campus store use and beneficiaries for the FBST Annual Report. Each time the patron uses the storeAnd the They are asked to fill out a form which is then collected and compiled to review the impact of the store. This data, given to Ithacan Written by Karen Walls, Executive Assistant in the Office of Student Affairs and Campus Life and Principal Coordinator of Store, appears who – which Food insecurity Lack of constant access to food for a healthy and active life – remains a A prominent case on campus.
Doreen Hetish-Atkins, executive director of the Office of Student Affairs and Campus Life, said she has seen positive changes in student lives because of the store.
“One student said to me this summer, ‘I haven’t had a real meal in three days,’” Hetish-Atkins said. “I think without this, many of our students would struggle Much more than they are.”
While the store is now open to the public, none of the Ithaca community members use the store outside of college. Walls said there are more than 30 off-campus locations for Tompkins County residents to get free food, which may be why the store is not used by non-campus members.
According to the Southern Tier Food Bank, in 2019, Tompkins County reported 13980 Food insecure population. By the beginning of 2021, this number had dropped to 11,920 residents, according to A Report from Tompkins Food Future.
Between 2019 and 2022, there was an increase of more than 800 people using the store. From January 2022 to September 2022, the store served 1,372 students, 816 staff and faculty – indicating the highest use of the store since it opened in 2019. For the first five months of the store’s operation – August 2019 to December 2019 – the store served 1,015 students and 321 employees and faculty.
Senior Abigail McGuire, who began volunteering at the beginning of fall 2022, said She is amazed at the turnout of the patrons.
“It’s kind of like a bunker, so I wondered if it’s not accessible to students, but it looks like we have a lot of foot traffic,” McGuire said.
Although the number of students still living on or near campus during the COVID-19 lockdown – which began in March 2020 – the store remained open twice a week until December 2020. Store usage decreased to a total of 880 beneficiaries served across 2020 calendar year. Students continued to be the main demographic that used the store and the student-staff and faculty-leader ratio was two students per staff member or faculty member. In 2021, the store served 627 members on campus. Although classes were almost still held, by the spring of 2021 many students were on campus.
Walls said that even as the number of recipients has decreased, she can still recognize the positive effects the store has on the student’s body.
Corona virus disease[-19] Regardless, I’ve seen a gradual increase in pantry use,” said Walls. “I think there’s been more student retention because of the pantry.”
Hetch-Atkins said More data was collected through forms that customers fill out before shopping at the store, but it was more difficult to process because of the low staffing in the Office of Corporate Analytics and Research. Hettich-Atkins said she doesn’t know when the data will be processed because there is still uncollected data going back to 2019.
Junior Abigail Hoffert, who has been volunteering at the store since spring 2022, said she realized the number of food-insecure students during her time as a volunteer.
“A lot of the people we get don’t have meal plans because they don’t have the money to pay for them…and they probably can’t get to the grocery store,” Hoffert said.
Despite the clear need among the student body for the pantry, there is a struggle to keep it open due to the lack of student volunteers. The store can only be opened when there are volunteers to help with patrons and inventory. Sometimes staff in the Office of Student Affairs and Campus Life are filled, Hettich-Atkins said, but when staff or students can’t volunteer, the service isn’t available to the public. There are currently 34 volunteers in storage.
Store hours are currently 12:15 to 2 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 4 pm to 6 pm on Wednesdays and Fridays. Hoffert said those hours may also be a factor limiting the number of students available to volunteer, and she said she believes promotion aimed at potential volunteers can help. The store contains information on Instagram Tweet embed And on the college website under Student Affairs and University Life.
“I feel the ad should be for students who volunteer to sign up, not necessarily just people who come to the pantry,” Hoffert said. “I would like to have a team of volunteers that you know when they are there. … You can start building relationships.”
Walls said she believes that having more honest conversations about food insecurity will further support the store and fight hunger within the college community.
“People think that only the poor use the store and that is not necessarily true,” said Walls. “It’s just a helping hand: Everyone needs help sometimes, and students need to work on reducing the stigma of pantry use.”