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Access to New Food Pantry for Students Remaining on Campus During Pandemic

Access to New Food Pantry for Students Remaining on Campus During Pandemic
An improvised food pantry for students staying on campus in Pondside III.

When Keene State College transitioned to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of students returned home for the remainder of the semester. International students and students who were not able to make alternate arrangements stayed on campus. Twenty students made Pondside III their new home; it was important to Keene State staff that students who needed to stay on campus felt at home and supported.

The College continues to provide programming and activities for these on-campus students. “Right now, there are three or four programs every week for the residents. The activities include movie night, paint night, motivational chalk, mask-making, Kahoot Trivia, microwave cooking competition, pizza party, brunch on the weekends, crafts, and a few more programs,” said Katherine Potts, area coordinator of Pondside III. Students have access to Hoot-n-Scoot for their meals and they have access to Mason Library.

Keeping students safe and healthy is also a top priority for the College. “Students live in one building and they are asked to maintain social distancing at all times, but are allowed to be together in communal spaces. Additionally, we are not allowing any guests in the building to maintain the health and safety of this community,” added Katherine.

At the Hoot-n-Scoot, students have a few different options for their daily meals. To provide additional help, a food pantry was also established to provide the students with additional snack options and reduce their need to visit stores frequently. Katherine worked with several people to start up the resident food pantry.

“It started when the bookstore contacted Residential Life and offered to donate the remaining food that they had left. I worked with facilities to obtain shelving units to store the food on. Once that happened, I was in communication with Steven Spiegel, associate director of the Global Education Office, and Kya Roumimper, coordinator of multicultural student support, to discuss the needs of our international students,” said Katherine. Kya mentioned that Sandra and Rich Wallace, longtime supporters of the College, wanted to continue donating to the Global Food Pantry. This pantry was set up in Keene State’s Office of Multicultural Student Support and Success through the Wallaces’ nonprofit, The Daily Good.

“With COVID-19 upending students’ lives, we wanted them to know that we are always there for them and that the Global Food Pantry didn’t have to go away during the pandemic,” said Sandra. “Being able to provide weekly deliveries of cultural food items that say ‘home’ and filling in for the Hungry Owl is a great joy.”

“Within 48 hours of the residents being moved to the building, I had a fully stocked pantry for them to utilize with items such as water, pasta, cereal, rice, candy, soap, laundry detergent, and more. It was incredible how much support I received within such a short period of time. Since this all first played out, the Athletic Department has donated drinks and food from the concession stands, too,” said Katherine. Keene State Staff members Celia Rabinowitz, Kim Schmidl-Gagne, and Kim Harkness have also been bringing supplies for the students.

-By Mackenzie Crump ’20

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Keene, New Hampshire 03435