Patrice Winder, left, Delaware Tech’s Assistant Director of Student Affairs, and Gail Charrier, Acting Dean of Student Affairs, say students having been visiting the newly opened food pantry.
For a new food pantry, the Harry K. Foundation-sponsored school pantry at Delaware Tech’s Owens Campus has been relatively busy. That’s not good news. It indicates there are food-insecure students who are struggling to have enough food while getting an education.
This pantry, located in a closet in the Student Service Center, opened officially in March, after a soft opening in late November.
Acting Dean of Student Affairs Gail Charrier confirms the need exists: in a college-wide survey, 43 percent of Delaware Tech’s students indicated they deal with food insecurity.
That number is consistent with national research, according to “The hidden crisis on college campuses,” an April 3 Washington Post article which states, “36 percent of students at 66 surveyed colleges and universities do not get enough to eat, and a similar number lack a secure place to live.”
Delaware Tech put the word out about this food closet through flyers, digital signs, and notices in faculty emails. Thinking that students might want some privacy while “shopping” at the pantry, the college purchased a scheduling app, YouCanBookMe. The system allows a student to use his or her phone to book a 20-minute time slot; the appointments then register in the pantry’s administrators online calendars.
Students who are unaware of the app-based scheduling and visit during pantry hours on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons aren’t turned away, Charrier explains.
Since the pantry is only open while school is in session, Charrier and Assistant Student Affairs Dean Patrice Winder – who helps oversee operations – saw an uptick in student visits in January.
“In January and February, we had over 50 visits,” Charrier said.
As in other Food Bank of Delaware school pantries, each student can select 30 pounds of food and an additional five pounds of personal hygiene items. In fact, the most popular items are household cleaning and feminine hygiene supplies.
The food pantry, Charrier said, is one of Delaware Tech’s Vice President and Campus Director Dr. Bobbie Barends’s “big three” goals: service. So far, there have been numerous food drives to help stock the shelves, including one in conjunction with recent graduation ceremonies.
“It is also our plan to involve more student clubs. The campus community supports these drives,” Charrier added.
When the fall semester starts in August, one of Charrier’s goals is to “get the word out” during new student orientation and welcome days so that more students are aware that there is help available.
Visit www.fbd.org for more information about the Food Bank’s mission to eradicate food insecurity in Delaware.