Rider Pantry ensures students have access to essentials

Community initiative combats food insecurity
Rachel Stengel '14

Students now have a place to access necessary food, clothing and toiletries courtesy of the newly opened Rider Pantry. The Pantry was established by a nine-member committee to help alleviate food insecurities and the lack of other essential resources for students, according to Ida Tyson, associate director of the Educational Opportunity Program and co-chair for the Pantry’s steering committee.

“We were challenged as part of the diversity and inclusion section of the new Student Affairs Strategic Plan to help with food insecurities for college students,” she says. “The Pantry responds to the unmet needs of Rider students, with special consideration for homeless and low-income students and those with food insecurity.”

Food insecurity is the limited or uncertain availability of nutritional and/or safe foods. Mercer County has an 11 percent food insecurity rate, with more than 42,000 people who are food insecure, according to Feeding America. A recent report by the National Student Campaign Against Hunger & Homelessness also found that food insecurity can negatively impact students' educational efforts.

"We want all Rider students to have the ability to succeed academically," says Dana Lopes, assistant director of the Student Support Services Program and co-chair of the Pantry’s steering committee. "The Pantry helps provide them with the basic essentials so they don't need to worry how they'll get their next meal or what to do if their winter coat is fraying; they can focus on their studies and finishing their degree."

The Pantry is located in Room 23 of the Joseph Vona Academic Annex and is accessible Tuesday through Thursday from noon to 2 p.m. or by appointment. In addition to providing students access to non-perishable food, the Pantry will also house toiletries and personal care items, outerwear, laundry supplies, and some clothing and bedding.

The community-based Pantry is solely reliant on donations. Aramark, the University's food service provider, has helped stock the Pantry, but additional donations are welcome. Monetary donations can be made via checks payable to Rider University with Rider Pantry indicated in the memo section.

Would you like to donate to the new Rider Pantry?

The following items are needed:

Nonperishable food that is easy to prepare in a microwave or to eat “on the go”:

•Dry cereal, oatmeal, cereal bars, non-refrigerated milk, tuna, cans of soup, crackers, mayonnaise, dry pasta, mac-n-cheese, pasta sauce, rice, etc.

Toiletries and basic necessity items:

•Individually wrapped bath soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant (men’s and women’s), body lotion, and feminine care products

Winter outerwear:

•Winter items limited to new hats and scarves, new gloves, and new or dry cleaned coats

Monetary donation:

• If you would like to make a monetary donation, please make checks payable to Rider University and write “Food Pantry” on the memo line. Checks can be dropped off or mailed to the University Advancement at Moore Library 137, 2083 Lawrence Road, Lawrenceville, NJ.

For more information about the Pantry, please contact either Tyson or Lopes directly at [email protected] or [email protected].