The United Nations continues to combat food insecurity on campus – New Hampshire

For many students, lunch is one of the most exciting times of the day. It is a chance to socialize with friends, enjoy delicious food and take a break from the usual routine of tiring classes and studying. But for many, this is not a reality. And sometimes, it’s easy to overlook this happening in our own backyards.

Located in the Memorial Union Building (MUB) in Room 140A at the University of New Hampshire (UN), Cats’ Cupboard is a pantry that opened in the spring of 2022 and provides canned, frozen, and packaged foods that students can take home to cook. For dinner, warm up in the microwave on campus or even have it as a quick snack to take to the next class.

said Ryan Chagnon, Cats’ Cupboard supervisor.

Food insecurity can greatly affect students’ mental health, focus, energy, and academic success. With the help of dietitian Rochelle Tallinn, Treasury provides nutritious options to students free of charge. All students are welcome to use the locker, which is open on Tuesdays from 12 pm to 7 pm and Friday from 4 pm to 7 pm

The treasury currently serves five to 15 people per day, a number the UN hopes will grow to serve more people as they become aware of the store’s existence.

“I hope that once we have more people familiar with what we do and what we have, more people will come, and we will be able to expand our offering even further,” said Emma Owens, a third-year student in French. International Affairs is a double major at the United Nations who works as a Student Supervisor in the Treasury. Its role includes checking people’s IDs as they enter and helping answer any questions.

She added that she hopes these offers will include access to the locker during the summer and winter holidays.

Brennan Rumble, general manager of hospitality services at the United Nations Hotel who works with Cats’ Cupboard, added that he hopes in the future they can work towards allowing students quick access to the locker. He said this would allow people to enter without the need for staff to be present all the time, and would allow access to the store more often.

In addition, Cats Cupboard cooperates with Meetsa local organization that aims to help fight food absence of security on the sea coast. The United Nations Headquarters for the Associations provides a campus kitchen located in Barton Hall where they take surplus, unavailable food from the dining halls, as well as food from local grocery stores, United Nations restaurants and campus gardens for reuse for distribution through Cooking4Communities a program. This program reuses unused foods from markets, restaurants, and, in this case, food at the United Nations. The program reintroduces an average of 600 meals per week.

Some of this repurposed food is packaged and served as microwaveable meals at Cats’ Cupboard. Meals vary each week, but examples of this week’s options include primavera pasta and vegan corn and chili soup.

The pantry makes a point to offer allergy-friendly options including vegetarian and gluten-free foods whenever possible. The store also provides basic toiletries for students who need them.

“It’s something for anyone who might need help. You don’t have to have a background in helping to eat if something happens this week,” Chagnon said. “We’re here for people to turn to for help wherever needed.”

“There’s no limit yet, to how much someone can take or how many times they can come in. It’s really about giving back to people,” Owens added.

Besides the store, the UN program offers “Swipe it Forward”. The way it works is that students with swipe plans that offer a certain number of swipes per semester can donate some swipes toward students who need them. Then, students can get swipes by filling out a forward swipe request form, which then gives them access to swipes for free.

Faculty and staff can also make a donation to the program through a payroll deduction that can be arranged by calling Business Services.

Another operating store in Durham, is the Cornucopia Food Pantry which operates out of the Waysmeet Center at 15 Mill Road. The store is open on Tuesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Fridays from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Due to COVID-19, the store operates by appointment only, so it is best to call ahead to reserve a time for a layover. The store also accepts donations that can be dropped into the Donation Box at the Waysmeet Center.

No matter what students are going through financially, they can count on multiple resources across campus to help them so that food is not a source of stress.

Owens reflected on her reasons for having to help out with the cat closet.

“I think it was just a trigger of wanting to help my community out,” she said. “I was really grateful to everyone who helped me. And when I heard there was food insecurity on campus, I thought it was a really great way to give back to the community that gave me so much when I first came here.”

Cats’ Cupboard is located at MUB 140A. All you need when you visit is your student ID and some reusable bags, if available.

Some of the foods available in the Cats Cupboard. (Watkins photos)

“I’ve always felt it’s just kind of what we do at the United Nations,” Rumble said. “We are looking for other wild cats.”

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