Last September, SASN held the Fall Compassion@SASN Challenge to help stock the shelves of PantryRUN, the school’s food pantry, which has played an essential role by feeding families during the Covid-19 pandemic. The food drive reached an unprecedented milestone, bringing in more than 600 pounds of items in just one week, reaffirming the power of what the late Rutgers University–Newark History Professor Clement A. Price called our “beloved community.”
Last month, during its Spread the Love pantry drive (February 14–18), SASN shattered that record by bringing in 800 pounds of essential items for RU-N students and families in need, a 33 percent increase, once again demonstrating what the college can accomplish when we work together for the betterment of those around us.
“For this recent campaign, which was a collaboration between the Dean's Office, Office of Academic Services, along with faculty, staff and students, we wanted to center love and generosity, so we made the decision to anchor the event between Valentine's Day and Random Acts of Kindness week,” said SASN Dean Jacqueline Mattis. “The success of this effort is such a powerful lesson about what happens when we make the decision to prioritize love.”
Although the drive officially ended on February 18, donations from the SASN community continued to roll in until the end of March, according to Spenser Carrion, Assistant Dean, Recruitment & Community Engagement for RU-N's Office of Academic Services.
“PantryRUN just got its final donation on March 29, which helped us reach 799.9 pounds of donated items as a community,” said Carrion. “And the SASN community came through in one other way, donating the items that the pantry was truly in need of, including nutritious foods and paper products. In fact, all of the toilet paper donated has all been ordered already.”
The pantry, which is part of the Health & Wellness office of RU-N’s Division of Student Affairs, was founded at the Paul Robeson Campus Center (PRCC) in 2017 and subsequently moved into the larger space it currently occupies in PRCC’s Room 226. It provides nutritious food to RU-N students and staff experiencing food insecurity, including grains (pastas and rice), fresh produce (usually between August and November), canned goods, snacks, milk and other staples.
The success of this effort is such a powerful lesson about what happens when we make the decision to prioritize love.
PantryRUN’s team includes Director Hend El Buri, Coordinator Jill Goordman plus 13 work-study student volunteers, along with occasional volunteer groups, who stock shelves, fill orders, help guests and organize food and donations.
Donors can contribute by sending food directly to PantryRUN from vendors like Target, Amazon or Wal-Mart; by dropping off food donations during open hours or coordinating drop-offs via email with pantry staff; or by making a financial contribution through the Rutgers University Foundation.
PantryRUN is open 6 days a week during the school year. Visitors can order once a week, or in certain circumstances when students are going through extra-challenging circumstances, El Buri and her staff will work with them to cover their needs.
Prior to the pandemic, students, faculty and staff could “shop” the shelves in-person. In March 2021 the pantry launched online ordering and curbside pickup to maintain safe social-distancing, but it now allows in-store order pickup. It also is receiving infusions of fresh produce early this year and has set up a in-store “farmers market” section that is separate from the online ordering system and can be shopped in-person. Masks are required to enter the pantry.
Mattis, the SASN Dean, has been continually impressed with the generous spirit exhibited by the SASN community.
“What we saw demonstrated with this food drive is ‘quiet good,’ the kind of goodness that happens when we notice and support each other, and when we act out of compassion while no one is watching,” said Mattis. “This is the most honest representation of who we are as a community. I am so grateful to everyone who gave, and so thankful for Hend and the volunteers in the pantry working tirelessly to ensure that everyone in our community is fed.”
Pantry Hours: Mon: 11am–2pm / Tue: 9am–2pm / Wed: 1–6pm / Th: 2–6pm / Fri: 10am–noon / Sat: 11am–1pm
Before donating, please click the Food Donations tab here to see an updated list of items the pantry needs most.
To coordinate food-donation drop-offs with PantryRUN staff, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To volunteer, please visit here.