The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

Tangerine Grove extends, offers more accessibility to students

Associate Director for Student Transitions Jenn Rubino restocking pantry shelves.
Diana Sidorevich
Associate Director for Student Transitions Jenn Rubino restocking pantry shelves.

The Tangerine Grove, Utica’s campus food pantry, opened an extension in Strebel 204 with 24/7 access. 

The offshoot branch was implemented last spring to offer more accessibility to students because of its central location on the campus. The extension also doesn’t rely on staffing through volunteer availability like the B23 Hubbard Hall location and is now open to all members of the university community. 

Pantry coordinator Erin Kelly said the original location at Hubbard Hall is currently stocked with more food and the extension is stocked with more hygiene products, but the supply of food and hygiene products will be determined based on how often the extension is utilized and what the need is. 

Currently, the pantry is focused on keeping enough food available to meet the students’ needs. 

“We’ve run out of food a lot,” Kelly said. “The need seems to be growing and more people know about us. It’s hard sometimes to keep enough food on the shelves.” 

The pantry is stocked through mostly faculty and staff donations, leftover packaged foods from events on campus and food purchased from a grant from Swipe Out Hunger, an organization that supports campus food pantries. 

According to Kelly, there’s a stigma surrounding the use of food pantries.

“It’s something that we fight and we try to tell people, we don’t ask for proof of financial need,” Kelly said. 

The need varies from occasional to consistent needs. The pantry is either visited by commuters who forget their lunch or wallet and need a snack to students with more consistent needs who sometimes bring food to their homes.

Kelly’s dream would be to have a bigger space and add a thrift store or clothing exchange component to the Grove.

“If we had an environment that was open to anyone, that wasn’t just a ‘food pantry,’ that would go a little ways towards reducing that stigma,”  Kelly said.

Volunteer Rhiana Wojcik said fellow students may not think she has a need because she has several campus jobs, including working at the dining hall, but she benefits from the pantry as well.

“I personally go down there all the time so I want to make it a place that everyone would want to go and not feel ashamed,” Wojcik said. “A lot of students feel like if they go down to the pantry it’s because they’re poor…but if you just need a quick snack to grab or make new friends, you can go down there.”

The pantry is looking to stock more ethnic food products. Wojcik, who also donates specific items like curly hair products for students who need more specialized products, said she refers commuter students who come to the dining hall to the pantry to pick up food for the weekend.

“I ask people what they would like to see and if I can, I’ll go out and buy it,” Wojcik said. 

 

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Diana Sidorevich, Managing Editor

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