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St. Bonaventure University

Food insecurity is all too real; Bona's food pantry offers help

Nov 29, 2021
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By Cassidey Kavathas, '24

A move to a new apartment caused unexpected expenses for a full-time student at St. Bonaventure University this past fall. Even with a scholarship, part-time job and savings from summer work, it was a struggle to buy groceries each week.

This student isn’t alone in dealing with food insecurity, which is defined as not having access to enough food. According to data collected by College and University Food Bank Alliance, roughly 30 percent of college students nationwide are food insecure. Pictured_SBU Food Pantry shelves

To address the issue, Alice Miller Nation, director of St. Bonaventure’s Franciscan Center for Social Concern (FCSC), gathered a task force of students, staff and administrators to create a food pantry on campus. It opened its doors in October 2019 and today offers a variety of fresh, frozen, boxed and canned foods for those facing food insecurity. 

“Hunger is everyone’s concern,” said Miller Nation. “Our student volunteers are learning that the faces of hunger can change daily. They are also witnessing good will in action as community members partner with us to keep the shelves stocked and the refrigerator and freezers filled.” 

Because of these partnerships, the pantry now offers proteins such as rotisserie chickens, hams, one-pound rolls of ground beef, ground chicken, chicken tenders and more. Besides these proteins, the pantry is offering artisan bread, desserts, ice cream, butter, jams, pastas and canned food.

The pantry serves about 10 people daily ranging from students to staff, though the turnout can depend on the day or the weather.

“The freezer items are always a big hit. People also tend to favor pasta, sauce and snacks,” said Bridget O'Hern, a senior health and society major who volunteers at the pantry. “We are constantly adding new foods so there are always new options for people to choose from.”

The pantry doesn’t only offer food items. Supplies such as toilet paper and feminine hygiene products are donated to help students, faculty and staff in need.

Pictured_SBU Food Pantry shelvesThe pantry accepts donations year round.

“There isn’t a limit to what can be donated because we have freezers and refrigerator space,” said Miller Nation. “All we ask is that it is unopened and not expired.”

The pantry is located in the McGinley-Carney Center for Franciscan Ministry in room 114. It is open Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., or by appointment. A group of 30 volunteers and a student leadership team of seven operate the pantry. 

“I'm really proud to be part of this organization. I feel like I'm contributing to the entire St. Bonaventure community,” said O’Hern. “Just knowing that the food pantry is open and accessible to everyone is amazing.”

To help raise money and awareness for the Food Pantry and other service programs on campus, the FCSC will host #GivingTuesdayatBonas, a one-day fundraising event, on Nov. 30. 

Across the United States, the GivingTuesday movement is intended to be a way to encourage people to support their favorite nonprofit causes as part of their holiday giving.

The community is invited to visit now through Nov. 30 to learn more and to make a contribution.