Earlier today, Barnard SGA and the Food Pantry at Columbia announced that they will be opening a new satellite food pantry location on Barnard’s campus in partnership with Barnard students, the Barnard administration, and Chartwells, Barnard’s dining service.
The Food Pantry is holding a soft opening during reading week and finals–December 10th to December 19th–in what they call a “‘Snack Attack'” style with “nutritious snacks, prepackaged food, and fresh produce.” The pantry will be open from Monday to Friday in 125 LeFrak Center in Barnard Hall.
This new pantry is an expansion of the Food Pantry at Columbia that opened in 2017 and was founded to create access to non-perishable foods for students experiencing food insecurity. The original Pantry’s opening came in the wake of the First-Generation Low Income Partnership (FLIP) launching its Class Confessions page in 2015 to put pressure on the Columbia administration to address the issues and concerns of its student body, where they also raised over $6,000 for the needs of low-income students. Columbia College Student Council (CCSC), Columbia Engineering Student Council (ESC), and Columbia Graduate Student Council (GSC) also came together in 2015 to spearhead initiatives to address the widespread food insecurity on campus including the program “Swipes,” an app that connected students experiencing food insecurity with students who had extra meal swipes, and the Emergency Meal Fund (EMF), a program that provided students with 6 meals per semester, “no questions asked”, that came from the guest swipe donations of other students. However, both programs did not decrease food insecurity to the degree they planned to, due to a lack of student participation, which led to “Swipes” dying one month after its release, and the EMF’s minimal scope and accessibility for students. In response to the lack of action taken by the administration, students focused on creating a more accessible space for students experiencing food insecurity: the Food Pantry.
The Columbia General Studies Student Council (GSSC) played a crucial role in the creation of the Food Pantry at Columbia, which they founded in 2016. The former programs and initiatives created by the other student councils helped to bring the issue of food security in the School of General Studies (GS) and the Graduate schools to the surface. After the Pantry’s opening, they realized that GS and graduate students access the Pantry at the highest rate, even though food insecurity is an issue experienced by students from every school on campus, including Barnard.
In 2018, Barnard’s Student Government Association (SGA), in conjunction with Financial Aid, the Food Pantry at Columbia, FLIP, Aramark (Barnard’s former dining service), ResLife, and Beyond Barnard found that about 10% of Barnard students reported experiencing some form of food insecurity, although little about food insecurity’s impact on Barnard is known to the public. To address this lack of information, last year, SGA founded an ad hoc committee on food insecurity to determine the scope of food insecurity on Barnard’s campus and to expand available resources to food-insecure students, though little information has been released. The creation of the satellite pantry on Barnard’s campus also comes at a time where many low-income and/or food-insecure Barnard students have recently complained about Barnard’s new food provider’s, Chartwells, high food prices for significantly smaller portions, as well as the limits that have been placed on meal swipes at Barnard dining areas in comparison to last semester, such as the strict and limited nature of swipes at Diana Center Cafe and Liz’s Place. The creation of the satellite pantry on Barnard’s campus is hopefully another step in addressing Barnard College’s surging rate of food insecurity.
If you’re a student at Barnard or Columbia facing food insecurity, please utilize the Emergency Meal Points Donation Program (Barnard only) or look at this Hunger Resource Guide, created by a Barnard alumane, that highlights where to get free food in the immediate vicinity, alongside using the Columbia or Barnard Food Pantries If you’re interested in donating to or volunteering with the Food Pantry at Columbia or Barnard, either email the Food Pantry at firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up to be a volunteer here.