Campus Cupboard reopens with fresh, campus-grown produce
With all the courses, textbooks, tests and papers that college students juggle daily, food insecurity should never be an issue. And yet, 34% of college students reported feeling hunger in the previous 30 days, according to a fall 2020 survey by Temple University’s Hope Center for College, Community and Justice.
No student at SFCC goes hungry, thanks to Campus Cupboard, which is stocked with free food and other essential supplies for anyone on campus who needs them. Campus Cupboard Coordinator Ed Worden oversees the food pantry, yet he serves up much more than food.
“For some folks during the pandemic, we’ve been a dependable, reliable important part of their lives,” he said. “Some of the shoppers who come here aren’t just looking for food. Sometimes being hungry or needing food is related to lots of other needs. So folks don’t always just want to get in and get out, sometimes they want to chat with you. Campus Cupboard was around before the pandemic and has been a source of support for underage students, elderly students and plenty of homeless students.”
Launched in 2013, Campus Cupboard has become a mainstay for many students. Although the food pantry closed when SFCC shut down during the pandemic, it stayed open for drive-through distribution. When Campus Cupboard re-opened in October for in-person shopping, it launched an exciting partnership with SFCC’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Program, which provides fresh produce grown on campus.
“Making a difference for folks is one of those core human needs that you have to meet and it’s nice to be able to help people meet that. The people who typically shop here are more than just shoppers. They’re usually very interesting people, sometimes with complicated lives. You get to know people over time because they start to open-up to you. Probably at least two-thirds of the people who come here have been here before, and sometimes it’s 100%. Hopefully we serve as a source of food security and stability because the folks who come, come every week and usually they come at the same time every week. My favorite part about being here is getting to know real people, getting to know their stories, because sometimes they’re more interesting than most other folks.”
—Ed Worden, STEM Core Student Support Specialist, Campus Cupboard Coordinator
“We are just starting the process of being regular suppliers of food for Campus Cupboard,” said Richard C. “Charlie” Shultz, Lead Faculty at Controlled Environment Agriculture, part of the School of Trades, Technology, Sustainability and Professional Studies. “With that in mind, we want to regularly deliver lettuce, since everyone eats that weekly. Then as student projects mature, we will be regularly bringing commodities like tomatoes, cucumber, peppers and culinary herbs.”
All of the produce is a byproduct from CEA’s greenhouse internship program. “Students produce a variety of crops and we look forward to collaborating more with Campus Cupboard as a way to get this fresh, healthy food into the homes of students and community members in need,” Shultz says.
CEA’s fresh produce is a welcome addition to Campus Cupboard’s non-perishable foods, such as canned vegetables and fruits, dried soups and peanut butter, which Worden buys from the Food Depot, northern New Mexico’s food bank, at a steep discount. Students also can shop Campus Cupboard for soap, toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrushes and other household items.
To ensure that no one in the SFCC community goes without a meal, Campus Cupboard relies on the generous support of others. Many SFCC employees donate through payroll deduction giving, and the public provides financial support through the SFCC Foundation: Donate at https://www.sfcc.edu/give-now/.
Campus Cupboard also accepts perishables donated by the public. “It really is the giving that helps to sustain the Cupboard,” Worden says.
Thanks to the donations, shoppers currently pick up 250 pounds of food a week from Campus Cupboard, Worden says. The food pantry is open Wednesday through Friday, 2 to 4 p.m., and shoppers who can’t visit then can arrange to pick up food after hours by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. As we enter this season of giving, a gift to Campus Cupboard will help brighten the holidays for those in need in our community.