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Feeding mind and body: OCC food pantry helps struggling students

— Now, the pantry has five locations across campus: one in Farnett’s office in Mawhinney Hall; one in the Career Center at Ferrante 262; one in the Office of International Student Services; one in the Academic Computing Center; and one in Gordon in the Educational Opportunity Program office.

Students are informed of the pantry through their campus email, announcements on monitors throughout campus and, mostly, word of mouth.

“It’s announced in their classes, and they find out through talking to each other. The amount of care they show each other is really amazing. They find out their fellow students are in need and they tell each other about it,” Farnett said. He acknowledged that word of mouth was the best route, largely because email and the campus monitors didn’t always reach the target population. “What might be a glitch in our system is that it does require someone to be paying attention. Some students never check their campus email. Some are oblivious to what’s on the monitors. But it’s there if you’re looking for it. We try to be what I call politely intrusive. It’s constantly there.”

Donations for the pantry are largely provided by faculty and staff.

“When new faculty members are hired, there’s a mentoring process. I met with five or so of them that said they wanted to take on a project, and that project was a food drive. It was amazing,” Farnett said. “The generosity of people on campus warms the heart.”

However, some outside agencies do help fill its shelves.

“St. Michael’s/St. Peter’s Church [in Onondaga Hill] and other outside agencies hold drives for us, too,” Farnett said. “We get a monthly donation from the Interfaith Council of Churches. They have a food bank of their own, and they send a truckload down each month. That’s distributed to all five locations.”

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