By Benjamin Solomon, Staff Writer
Did you know UMass Dartmouth has a food pantry?
It is called Arnie’s Cupboard and is supervised by Deacon Frank Lucca of the Catholic Campus Ministry, though the Cupboard is part of Student Affairs.
Deacon Frank took time to give the Torch some information about Arnie’s Cupboard, saying, “It is a pantry that provide Corsairs with emergency food.”
He continued, “Let me give you a little back history on Arnie’s Cupboard, it might help set the stage. Three years ago, two endeavor scholars…working with Students For Students and other organizations on campus, felt that students were going without food on campus.”
“It was really early on. It kind of stuck people they approached with ‘What? It’s a college, why would there be students needing food on campus?’”
“But they really believed in it, so they structured this. When they put the project together, we looked for a space on campus and there was none. So, they put the first pantry off-campus, at a church – the Dartmouth Bible Church which is not too far right off the campus.”
“That was the very first effort. The food from that effort was provided by lots of students from campus dorms at the end of the semester and other sources.”
“They started promoting it. The college funded a shuttle bus there, one day a week for a couple of hours each Wednesday. We had a private shuttle bus because we wanted to make sure it was private for our students. We didn’t want them to have to go on the regular bus and say ‘Oh, I have to stop at the food pantry.’”
“We thought, back then that the idea of being off campus was a benefit because a student coming from off campus with bags would not evoke the food pantry, it’d be just like Target. I think we were ultimately wrong about that based on the numbers. We had no real of collecting data at that time.”
“Last year I was speaking to the head of counseling who was retiring, and she always talked about this room above the counseling center, and I always thought ‘This would be a great place for a chapel’ – I didn’t know what size it was. So, I was joking to her at the last week of the school and she said, ‘Let me take you up there’, and she did.”
“It was used for counseling sessions – not the best space for that, but a space. So, we worked with the director of counseling and provided them an alternative space so that we could have that space. They were very generous in providing that to us. So, we brought that to campus and it opened last October.”
“Then, we really wanted to get the data we needed, and we had the marketing division of UMass do a very extensive study of our students, faculty, and staff. By the way, the Cupboard is open to faculty, students, and staff. Faculty and staff, we provide private hours for if they call. It’s open to everyone who has a UMass Pass.”
“We did this study and we got some statistics that were pretty shocking. Here, at UMass Dartmouth, 28 percent of our students indicated at some point they had experienced food security. That verified that this was a real need on campus.”
The 28 percent was, by the way, out of over 500 students and staff surveyed.
“So, we opened the pantry up last year for two hours a day. This year we’ve extended those hours more and we have an extensive number of volunteers – about 147 people have volunteered last year. We have more volunteers than we have slots open.”
Simply, Arnie’s Cupboard is a food pantry on campus available to anyone with a UMass Pass. They provide not only food, but toiletries as well. If you’re part of the 28 percent who are food-insecure, the Cupboard is discreet and welcoming.