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The Purple Pantry Helps UAlbany Community with Food Insecurity

By Fiona Hernandez | April 13, 2021

Food insecurity has increased among college students during the pandemic, according to a recent study conducted by UAlbany and four other universities, and UAlbany’s Purple Pantry has worked to acknowledge this struggle by providing food, toiletries, and many other supplies for students, faculty, and staff.

“After the pandemic hit in the Spring of 2021, the Pantry shifted from a “shopping model” where patrons would actively visit the Pantry and select items off the shelves to a “pre-ordering model” which allows patrons to select the items currently in-stock via an on-line form and place their order in advance of their visit,” said Luke Rumsey, Assistant Dean of Students and Co-director of the Purple Pantry. “Although COVID was a challenge as it forced us to adopt a new model seemingly overnight, we were able to adapt to the situation accordingly and still provide basic essentials to those in need in a safe manner.”

Even more, the Purple Pantry has also provided recommendations on other programs that help with food insecurity. “The Pantry staff regularly provide patrons with information related to applying for federal benefits such as SNAP, WIC, etc.,” Rumsey said.

However, Rumsey believes that as the pandemic starts to slow down next semester, students will still be facing food insecurity. “Food insecurity will continue to be a problem as long as the underlying causes of food insecurity in society such as poverty, unemployment, access to education,…are not adequately addressed,” he said.

He also isn’t worried that the Purple Pantry will be impacted by finances next semester and believes that they will still provide students, faculty, and staff with any help or information regarding access to food.

“The Pantry currently relies on funding from individual donors and private grants for operational needs,” he said. “Considering this is our primary source of funds, I do not foresee any significant changes or alterations to the Pantry’s overall level of service going into the fall.”

The Purple Pantry has received a numerous number of contributions from the UAlbany community to help them continue to supply students with resources.

“The love that we’ve seen come from members of our community to aid in the assistance of others is overwhelming,” Rumsey said. “It’s comforting to know that the Pantry is having a significantly positive impact on the campus community and those most in need.”


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