Statistics from several groups in the U.S. say that approximately one in seven households are food insecure, a growing trend, and the highest number ever recorded in the United States. To help head off this trend and ensure that Millersville University students don’t go hungry and are able to achieve their goals, the University and Campus Ministerium came together to create the Campus Cupboard. It is a campus food bank developed to address concerns for hunger and nutrition among Millersville University students.
“The Campus Cupboard is holding a ‘soft opening,’ which began on November 2 and will run through the rest of the semester,” said Kirstin Shrom-Rhoads, director and pastor of United Campus Ministry and founder of Campus Cupboard. “We will then provide food by request only during winter session, while assessing and preparing for the grand opening scheduled for the spring semester.”
At the end of the 2011-2012 school year, staff in student affairs began sharing stories with United Campus Ministry of students who reported not eating for days at a time. The two groups, including the financial aid department, continued to seek and receive both personal stories from students and national statistics and information indicating that this is a concern on many campuses.
With the knowledge of this campus-wide problem, planning stages for the food bank began. Throughout the summer of 2012, many students, church members and University staff came together and established the food bank. Food was collected and distributed to students as they were referred by the ministry. Prior to November 2, more than 300 food items have been collected and so far one-third of the items have been distributed.
“The ‘Campus Cupboard’ is located in the back of the A-frame Church located at 121 N. George St., Millersville. It will be open on Fridays from 2-4:30 p.m.,” said Shrom-Rhoads. “In an emergency, a student or staff member can receive food by contacting me during the week as well.” The Campus Cupboard hopes to create a support system for students so that they aren’t going without food while not creating an alternative to students for using their meal plans. Students will receive food for two to three meals and can come back each week, noted Shrom-Rhoads.
Anyone can donate food on Fridays between 10 a.m. to noon beginning November 9 or can contact Shrom-Rhoads to arrange a drop-off time. Monetary donations are also accepted and will be given to the Central PA (CPA) Food Bank account. Cash donations are significant because, used at the CPA Food Bank, one dollar purchases approximately $15 in food. Checks can be made out to the United Campus Ministry with the memo “Campus Cupboard.”
Volunteers are needed to help collect food, help with inventory or help with Friday distribution. The Campus Cupboard hopes to involve campus ministries, fraternities, sororities, academic departments, athletics, concerned men and women and many more. They will also offer one in-person volunteer training per semester and are developing an alternative online training. The Campus Cupboard would like to see this as a wonderful partnership between the community and University, as well as a great way for students to serve together as peers, noted Shrom-Rhoads.
“I want to be someone who helps to create a sense of community where we all care for each other; being involved in giving to help another, both in resources, as well as with quality time or a listening ear,” said Shrom-Rhoads. “Society teaches us to look out for ourselves first. I believe that we can live more full lives when we live looking out for and reaching out to one another.”
For more information on the Campus Cupboard, contact Shrom-Rhoads at 872-6840 or Kirstin.Shrom-Rhoads@millersville.edu.