In commemoration of National Social Work Month in March, the School of Social Work in Falk College will present its annual Dan and Mary Lou Rubenstein Social Justice Awards program from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, in 200 White…
Hendricks Chapel Food Pantry, Pete’s Giving Garden Help Combat Food Insecurity in Campus Community
In 2013, Syracuse University’s Hendricks Chapel established a food pantry to help students experiencing food insecurity. What started as a pantry in a small space in the chapel has grown into a large operation with two campus locations that serve more than 250 students a week.
The pantry is located on the lower level of Hendricks Chapel (North Campus) and the Carriage House (161 Farm Acre Road, South Campus). Each location is stocked with food, personal care and household items, which are available at no cost to undergraduate and graduate students with valid Syracuse University or SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry I.D.
Leondra Tyler, student coordinator of engagement programs at Hendricks Chapel, manages the food pantry (Melissa Cadwell, sustainability coordinator in the Office of Sustainability Management, oversees the South Campus location). Tyler has seen an increase in recent months of students utilizing the pantry, particularly graduate students who are not on campus meal plans.
“A lot of students don’t realize how expensive food is, or it was cheaper in their home country,” she says. “And many students are hesitant to ask their parents for money.” Thus, students often have to make a choice between buying groceries and engaging in the student experience to the fullest.
“We are not here to buy groceries; we want to help students get through a tough time,” says Cadwell. “We want everyone to have the student experience that they deserve to have.”
The pantry helps fill that gap. It is a cliché that college students live on Ramen noodles and quick meals—and the pantry certainly has those—but Tyler purchases and makes available items that are nutritious and filling, such as almond milk and produce. Purchased items are supplemented with donations from the campus community and the Food Bank of Central New York. Fresh vegetables come from Pete’s Giving Garden on South Campus.
“We want students to have access to these healthy items so that they can focus and do well academically,” Tyler says.
Pete’s Giving Garden has provided all kinds of vegetables and herbs for the pantry this year, including tomatoes, eggplant, carrots, onions, peppers and cucumbers. Squash will be available soon.
The garden is managed by Gabe Smith, a second-year food studies major in the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, who began in May. In this role, he plotted what the garden would look like and planted, harvested and did everything in between—irrigation, accommodations for the weather, and wild animal and insect control. Multiple blooming plants were also planted for biodiversity.
In addition to providing produce for the pantry, the garden is a living laboratory for students and faculty, says Cadwell. Estelí Jiménez-Soto, assistant professor of food studies in the Falk College, is working in the garden with her Agricultural Studies class. Cadwell and Smith will be working with Syracuse University Hillel for a gleaning event in the garden for Sukkot in October. Cadwell also works with the Shaw Center, matching up students who need service hours with volunteer opportunities in the pantry and garden.
Smith, a California native who has experience in vineyard management, has found peace in Pete’s Giving Garden and in the many ways it supports the campus community. He particularly loves the impact it has had, from students to the Facilities grounds crew that laid its foundation. “It’s been a fantastic experience,” he says.
The North Campus pantry location at Hendricks Chapel is located on the lower level and is open from 1 to 4 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Sign-in begins at noon and bag distribution begins at 1 p.m. Sign in to the North Campus Food Pantry online here before your visit or upon arrival. Students needing emergency assistance outside of those times can contact the chapel at 315.443.2901.
The South Campus food pantry location is at the Carriage House, 161 Farm Acre Road, and is open Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 4 p.m.
Hendricks Chapel relies on generous donations from the Syracuse University community to keep the food pantry well stocked. Ways to support the food pantry include:
- By donating food or personal care items. Physical donations may be dropped off at the Hendricks Chapel Dean’s Suite. Please ensure that donated items are not within six months of an expiration date. Items may also be ordered through the pantry’s Amazon Wish List, which ships items directly to the pantry. All are encouraged to donate to the Food Pantry Support Fund.
- Holding a food and toiletry drive. Student groups, residence hall floors, offices and departments can hold food and toiletry drives to benefit the food pantry. Contact Tyler at 315.443.1254 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how you can “Adopt-A-Month” for the pantry.
- Volunteering at the food pantry. Volunteers are needed to stock and organize the pantry, assist with fresh produce deliveries on Fridays and answer questions for visitors. Contact Tyler for more information on volunteer opportunities.