Buffalo State students facing food insecurity don’t have to go hungry—thanks to the Milligan’s Food Pantry.
Located in the Campbell Student Union, the pantry provides food to students year-round, food that is donated from faculty, staff, and campus organizations. In 2018, Milligan’s served roughly 200 students over more than 400 visits.
However, there is a greater need now to ensure that students have food for the holidays.
“We typically see an uptick in food pantry requests in November through the end of the semester, when students begin to run low on funding,” said Sarah Young, dean of students. “Sometimes, too, students forget we are only open during business hours, and therefore, they cannot gain access during the Thanksgiving holiday.”
Thus, Young and the Dean of Students Office and Mary-Jo Jagord, director of the Alumni Engagement Office, joined efforts this year to create the Thankful Box project. Individuals, departments, and student organizations across campus are encouraged to fill boxes with items for the Thanksgiving holidays.
While they won’t include fresh turkeys, the boxes will be filled with items that accompany the traditional meal, such as canned vegetables and fruit, cranberry sauce, boxed potatoes and stuffing, and dessert mix. And just as it does during the rest of the year, the pantry needs canned tuna, pasta, crackers, beans, cereal, peanut butter, soup, granola bars, boxed macaroni and cheese, juice, deodorant, and toothpaste.
“Sarah and I thought this collaboration would encourage more people to contribute,” Jagord said. “She can reach out to the campus, but we have a larger reach with alumni. Along with sending e-mails to local alumni, we’ll be making a push on social media. We’re hoping for a good response.”
All Thankful Boxes must be dropped off in the Dean of Students Office by Thursday, November 21. They will then be distributed to Milligan’s users the week of Thanksgiving. Faculty and staff can also make a tax-deductible donation to the pantry, payable to the Buffalo State College Foundation, in care of Claire Collier, donor relations officer, in Cleveland Hall 304. Employees can also provide sustaining, ongoing support through a payroll deduction gift.
Food insecurity is an issue with college students nationwide. Forty-five percent of 86,000 students who participated in a 2018 survey reported experiencing food insecurity in the prior 30 days. The students were part of the #RealCollege study of student hunger and homelessness created by the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice and administered at 123 two- and four-year institutions across the country.
Students who are considered independent from their families for the purposes of filing a federal financial aid form are more likely to experience food insecurity, homelessness, and housing insecurity than those claimed as dependents by their parents. In addition, students with children experience higher rates of food insecurity (53 percent) and housing insecurity (66 percent) compared with college students who do not have children.
In August 2018, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo launched the No Student Goes Hungry initiative, which includes State University of New York (SUNY) students. He said all SUNY schools should have campus food pantries or provide another stigma-free way for students to consistently have access to healthful food.
The food pantry is an initiative Buffalo State has had for decades. Founded in 2000 by the Counseling Center, Milligan’s is now overseen by the Dean of Students Office. In 2016, the pantry took another step in helping students avoid undue stigma by developing an online order system.
Students choose the food they need online and pick up their orders in the Dean of Students Office (Campbell Student Union 311) Monday–Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. or from the Newman Center between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Sundays. Students must be currently enrolled to qualify and must bring valid Buffalo State ID to pick up their order.
For more information, please visit the Milligan’s website.
Photo by Bruce Fox, Campus Photographer