By Alex Solari, Staff Writer
On Friday October 28, Arnie’s Cupboard, the new food pantry coming to campus, will officially open to any students, faculty, or staff who are in need of a meal.
This food pantry has been made possible by Deacon Frank Lucca, the full-time campus minister of UMass Dartmouth, Maurice Cyr, a political science student, and Shelly Metivier-Scott, the Associate Dean of Students.
According to Metivier-Scott, it all started when Shirley Fan-Chan, the director of U-ACCESS at UMass Boston who works with food insecurity, asked to talk to UMass Dartmouth’s point of contact for food insecurity. When Metivier-Scott realized there was not one, she decided to add it to her list of responsibilities since she felt it is an important issue. In 2013, Metivier-Scott asked the university for permission to start a food pantry, hoping to bring a close to home issue to an end.
The first food pantry at UMass Dartmouth was in 2014. According to Lucca, there were students during this time who were not eating sufficiently. Two Endeavor Scholars, Aubrie Brault and Samantha Smith, started the Students Helping Students food pantry for their Endeavor projects. This food pantry was held at Dartmouth Bible College, and also had hours in Cedar Dell West.
From there, another Endeavor Scholar, Rhesa Cumberbatch, took over the pantry in 2015 for her Endeavor project, which also was held at Dartmouth Bible College and Cedar Dell West. Since students were constantly graduating, and the food pantry did not have consistent contributors, some faculty decided to step in.
Maurice Cyr has had much experience in work with food insecurity, and is the coordinator for Arnie’s Cupboard. He began at Bristol Community College with a food drive, which marked the beginning of his work in food insecurity. The Greater Boston Mobile Food Market Program came to Bristol Community College, where Maurice spent much of his time helping students and providing them with food and other items that they needed.
Cyr talks about his own experiences, and said that both him and his husband lost their jobs in 2008, and were on a very tight budget. He applied for food stamps, and didn’t get them because of his income from the previous year. After his own struggles with food insecurity, he realized he wanted to help others who were in the same predicament as he once was.
Food insecurity has been a problem for others that are involved in the pantry as well.
“This is very close to home”, Metivier-Scott says, “It’s in my own experience as a first- generation college student.”
Those running the pantry emphasized the need for respect and compassion with this subject. “We feel it’s important to empower the students”, Metivier-Scott says. She continues, “We are working with a sensitive topic.” Lucca agrees, saying, “Dignity is the most important part.”
The food pantry will have a shopping cart system, according to Lucca. This means that students will be able to pick the items that they want and need, rather than getting a bag of pre-picked items. On top of food, Arnie’s Cupboard will be providing hygiene products to students such as toothpaste, soap, and feminine hygiene products.
For now, students can email firstname.lastname@example.org for their needs, but once the food pantry website is up and running, there will be an application to fill out. This application will be non-invasive and confidential, and will simply ask questions about food preferences and food allergies. This will help get data about the amount of people coming to the food pantry, and what items that they need and prefer.
The food pantry will be open in Main Auditorium Room 208, and will be available to students Monday through Friday, 4-6 p.m. Staff and faculty will have different hours, which will be announced once the food pantry starts.
If you would like to donate any food items, please stop by the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life in Campus Center Room 202. If you are interested in volunteering for the pantry, contact the pantry by emailing email@example.com.