NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Located on 39 Union Street, the Rutgers Student Food Pantry offers a safe haven for students who are going through some form of food or financial insecurity. Founded in the fall of 2016, the pantry offers non-perishable food items, beverages, personal care items, and paper products to Rutgers students.
But now, with a new partnership forged with the Rutgers Student Farm in the summer of 2019, the pantry offers fresh produce every Tuesday. Offerings are currently seasonal and constantly changing depending on the week. So far, the food pantry has had a variety of produce including kale, beets, onions, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and more; but the produce options are expected to change again with fall approaching.
Last April, around the time Alex Sawatzky joined Rutgers as a student farm manager, a study conducted by Cara Cuite, a human ecology assistant extension specialist, reported the growing problem of food insecurity at Rutgers.
“It indicated that more than one-third of all Rutgers students are food insecure,” says Sawatzky. “As we are growing food at the student farm, and Rutgers students are food insecure, the partnership seemed like an obvious step to take to do our part.”
Currently, the food pantry is unable to offer fresh produce year-round. This year, the initiative will end in October, but there are plans to expand the partnership in the future. In the meantime, students searching for fresh produce in the off-season are able to go to the Dean of Students Office for a gift card available for the grocery store.
While the food pantry does offer fresh produce, it does not currently offer other fresh foods such as fish, meat, or poultry. Students searching for these items can go to Emmanuel Lutheran Church in New Brunswick to have access to frozen meats.
“It’s imperative we not only provide non-perishable or canned goods for our students, but that we provide nutritious, balanced options for them to eat healthy as well,” says Kerri Willson, director of Off-Campus Living and Community Partnerships. “Access to fruits and vegetables is challenging for those struggling with food insecurity, as most food pantries carry the shelf-stable foods because it’s less waste and easier to manage.”
“Our ongoing partnership with the New Brunswick Community Farmers Market and this newly established partnership with the Rutgers Student Farm is so vital,” adds Willson. “It’s incredibly convenient for students to come to the campus food pantry and be able to get these items.”
For more information regarding the Rutgers Student Food Pantry, please visit ruoffcampus.rutgers.edu/food or follow them on Facebook @RUFoodPantry to receive pantry updates and to find events on campus that offer free food to students.