The SUNY Cortland Cupboard, which has been providing a safety net for university students for six years from The Interfaith Center on 7 Calvert Street, is moving to a new home in Old Main, Room B-05.
The change was made necessary by the future sale of the campus food pantry’s original home, the Interfaith Center building on the corner of Calvert and Prospect Terrace.
“Literally we can’t stay there anymore,” said Lauren Scagnelli ’12, M ’14, health educator in the university’s Health Promotion office and chair of the cupboard’s nine-member board of directors.
“We’re thankful that The Interfaith Center has hosted us since Nov. 6, 2017,” she said. “We haven’t paid them for any utilities or anything. We appreciate that The Interfaith Center partnered up with us to offer this service to our students.”
Students who need them can still get food and personal hygiene products for free through Wednesday of this week, Nov. 8, as the pantry will remain open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at its current location in The Interfaith Center basement.
The cupboard will then be closed on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 9 and 10, to allow for the move. The pantry will reopen on Monday, Nov. 13, at its new location in Old Main’s basement. It will have more limited hours at that location, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays through Friday, Dec. 13.
There are two routes to access the pantry. Using the entrance beside the Bowers Hall greenhouses and take the stairs down and through the double doors. Inside the vestibule, take the stairs on the left down. A more accessible path is to use the entrance by the parking lot loading dock and take the elevator to the left when you head in. Go to floor “B” for basement and upon exiting, turn right and head down the hall.
Students are welcome to stop by without an appointment. However, they won’t be able to swipe their student ID card to get into the pantry at its new location, Scagnelli said.
“At Old Main at first, we won’t have the hardware for the door meter,” Scagnelli said. “We don’t have a definite date yet for that to begin but we hope when the spring semester comes around students can do that.”
The ID card access feature originated during the COVID-19 pandemic to help keep people at a safe distance from one another. The remote setup, which allowed the pantry to remain open on an honor system without the need for staff, offered privacy and convenience that the board wants to continue.
A combination of board members and soon-to-be-recruited volunteers will keep the cupboard open during its new, 20-hours a week schedule this semester.
“We’re hoping to eventually expand the hours to what the building open hours are,” she said. “We want to be able to staff it so that people who are student teaching or who had class all day could still come in later.”
Old Main offers the pantry triple the space it occupied at The Interfaith Center, with plenty of room for its more recent, monthly Filled Fridge Friday program. That gives students access to refrigerated food and perishables that would otherwise be wasted, donated by SUNY Cortland Auxiliary Services and, since last fall, the Seven Valleys Food Rescue.
Plus, there’s space to add a large freezer, so the cupboard can supply students with frozen food.
“We’re excited that this is going to be a so much bigger space,” Scagnelli said.
The new location’s footprint is so large that fully one-third of the space is expected to eventually accommodate a complementary student service, the Student Government Association’s donated career clothing closet, Dragons Dress for Success.
Facilities Operations and Services management and staff are playing a particularly supportive role in remodeling the new space in advance with fresh paint and newly installed shelving, she said.
“I think that I can speak for the board and say we’re really appreciate of everyone on campus that’s been supportive of this move,” Scagnelli said.
Use of the SUNY Cortland Cupboard has greatly increased, from 64 student visits in its first Spring 2018 to 565 visits last spring, Scagnelli said. Between the last two full academic years in particular, student use of the pantry exploded by 74 percent. The board does not know whether that data represents a few or many students using the pantry.
“Between 20 and 50 percent of students are facing food insecurity on college campuses,” Scagnelli said. “The range is broad because it depends on the different needs in certain communities.”
According to her, the SUNY Cortland Cupboard’s most recent program, Swipe Out Hunger, involves donations of campus meal credits by generous students and SUNY Cortland Auxiliary Services to those less fortunate. With a set allocation of those meal points added to their ID card per semester, students who request this option get a chance to eat an occasional, fresh-cooked meal on campus alongside classmates. Last spring, 559 such meals were eaten by 121 students.
“None of these things are meant to be the sole thing in keeping them fed but one of many ways,” Scagnelli said.
The board, in addition to Scagnelli and John Suarez, who directs the College’s Institute for Civic Engagement, includes Chief of University Police Mark Depaull; Michael Discenza, head golf coach and academic coordinator; Residence Hall Director Alyssa Estus in Cheney Hall; Alyssa Jenkins, area coordinator in the Residence Life and Housing Office; student board member Sasha Machmuller; Jason Page, assistant professor of recreation, parks and leisure studies; and Samantha Shaffer, assistant director of student conduct.
“All the board members are amazing, they are doing a great job, and also we have so many partnerships that help us,” she said.
Follow the Cortland Cupboard on Instagram.