Rider Pantry sees more than 200 uses for food, clothing, toiletries

Multiple donations help pantry to maintain demand
Rachel Stengel '14

Since opening last February, the Rider Pantry has been utilized 239 times to assist students with food insecurity and the lack of access to basic essentials such as clothing and toiletries.

Solely reliant on donations, the pantry saw a generous donation of a standup freezer from a Rider employee and his or her spouse, who wish to remain anonymous, over the summer. The pantry was also approved for a $5,000 grant from United Way of Mercer County.

"The timing of the freezer was perfect; we received the donated freezer around the same time we were notified that the Rider Pantry had been awarded the grant from United Way," says Dana Lopes, pantry chair and assistant director of the Student Support Services Program. "It allowed us meet the needs of our students who, in the past, had meal plan or food insecurity gaps during the summer. We were able to fully stock and replenish the freezer throughout the summer and offer more selections that are conducive to a college student’s lifestyle."

The United Way grant also helped create a weekend meal kit program. Volunteers assembled bags complete with enough meals for three days to cover limited access to meals over the weekend. During the summer, more than 50 bags were distributed to students in need.

Food insecurity, or the limited or uncertain availability of nutritional food, is a growing issue on college campuses. According to recent reports, it is estimated that nearly half of American undergraduates experience food insecurity while pursuing college degrees. Lack of access to essentials has also been found to negatively impact students' educational efforts.

"I am incredibly proud the Rider community came together to support our students in need," says Dr. Leanna Fenneberg, vice president for Student Affairs. "The Rider Pantry clearly supports our mission to be an inclusive community. As the Rider student population continues to diversify, efforts like the pantry will support all students in achieving their personal and academic goals."

Continual donations are a key aspect of keeping the pantry operational. Rider's new dining and food service provider, Gourmet Dining has committed $5,000 annually to supporting the pantry. It will also continue to allow students to donate unused guest passes to students in need to access Daly Dining Hall and Westminster Commons.

This semester will include a variety of events to collect donations for the pantry. Throughout October, the Student Support Services Program is challenging students to fill empty water bottles with change for donation to the pantry and Hillel will be hosting a drive for donations of feminine care products. The women's basketball team will also have a donation night at its Dec. 21 game. The team has also been integral in organizing the donations in conjunction with Rider's Bonner Community Scholars.

Located in Room 23 of the Joseph Vona Academic Annex next to Daly's, the pantry is accessible to students Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Donating to the 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(including multicultural hair products), 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 Lopes at [email protected] or co-chair Angelica Benitez at [email protected].