In a post on Instagram on March 1, University of Connecticut Dining Services announced a food bank to be opened on March 20 located at the Charter Oak Community Center at 10 South Eagleville Road. The post stated that the pantry will be available to anyone with a UConn ID as part of an effort to battle food insecurity.
In an email interview with Dining Services executive director Michael White, he explained that, while there may be a few possible things that could push the opening date further back, the pantry is still expected to open on March 20.
“It will be located in the Charter Oak Community Center in an old dining services space that at one time was a convenience store,” White said.
Food will initially be provided through Husky Harvest, a program set up by UConn and Connecticut Foodshare, a nonprofit organization dedicated to combating hunger and food insecurity in the state. White acknowledged that once the pantry was able to stock and evaluate products provided by Foodshare, that donation drives from students would be accepted.
According to CTDataHaven, food insecurity among adults in the state peaked in 2022, with over 17% of adults answering that they do not have enough money to buy food for themselves or their families, compared to 10% in 2021. CTDataHaven believes that the sharp increase is the result of pandemic relief efforts dropping off.
Foodshare has worked with UConn to provide goods for food insecure students at regional campuses, most recently UConn Hartford in January. Food pantries supplied by Foodshare are also present at Avery Point, Waterbury and Stamford campuses.
The Storrs pantry also hopes to expand to provide other, non-food products to members of the UConn community.
“Our plan is to work offer things like; hygiene products, toilet paper, toothpaste, laundry detergent, soap, deodorant, etc… but we may end up having to get donations for those types of items. In my conversations with the regional campuses, they have had to get those items through donation because they are not available through this Foodshare program” White explained.
Dining Services expects there will be some items available for students with food allergies or restrictions and intends to expand these options as the pantry is filled.