In planning the event, we knew that the bags would go quickly, but we didn't anticipate the size of the response. Our supplies were depleted within 30 minutes, and many more students arrived in the next half-hour to ask if we still had food. After the event, students would occasionally show up to my contact tables asking when the next food distribution would be. It became clear that, although this had been planned as a one-time event, the need on our campus was constant. We began to explore methods of responding in a more permanent, ongoing way to the food insecurity at our school. Through research into programs at other schools and developing relationships with community partners, we have devised a three-pronged approach.
|Volunteers expand the DT Campus Harvest Plot|
In order to distribute the produce, we turned to Guilford Technical Community College for a model. Guilford Tech has operated a food pantry on its campus since 2008. An on-campus community garden supplies produce for the pantry through Harvest Tuesday. Produce is distributed on a first come, first served basis in the afternoon after a harvest in the morning because they do not have refrigeration to store the produce. Because we already have scheduled garden workdays on Tuesdays and also lack storage, we decided to call our program Harvest Tuesday as well. Since August 21, our program has distributed approximately 125 pounds of produce. We have experienced quite high demand. Although we have been able to serve 61 students to date, many have been turned away as produce supplies are typically exhausted within 20 minutes.
|Produce at Harvest Tuesday|
Durham Tech Campus Harvest Food Pantry
|SOTA food collection display at Fall Fest|
With the grand opening scheduled for MLK Day in 2013, we have begun the work of collecting non-perishable food items for the Durham Tech Campus Harvest Food Pantry. While we are currently working on developing policies for distribution, we anticipate allowing students to visit the pantry weekly and giving them choice in the items they receive through use of a shopping voucher model. Our first major food drive for the pantry took place this week at our annual Fall Fest. The Student Senate sponsored a club competition, awarding prizes to the clubs that brought in the most items by weight. The drive was an incredible success, collecting approximately 860 pounds of food! Once we sort the items that were collected and assess needs for specific items, we will be placing bins around campus to collect food on an ongoing basis.