The History of the New Paltz Food Pantry
Rev Dianna Smith began the food pantry in response to a student request for food for a struggling student. In 2012 Rev Smith responded to that request and soon realized that if there was one student in need there were surely many more.
The food pantry was started in a small corner of the office Rev Smith shared with 4 other organizations. Basic food supplies included cereal and soup tuna fish and peanut butter shelf stable milk and crackers.
Soon the word spread that there was a place on campus to get food. The second week of its existence 12 students came to the food pantry.
Rev Smith is the chaplain for the Student Christian Center, she brought the need for a food pantry to the board of directors of the SCC. The Board of Directors supported the work of the food pantry and began taking food donations to supplement the small food supply purchased by Rev Smith. In 2013 the food pantry became part of the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. The designation as a member agency allows the food pantry to purchase food at a rate of 16 cents per pound for many items.
The Rev Robin James of the Episcopal Campus Ministry became interested in helping the food pantry expand and to that end with Rev Smith requested more room for the food pantry. Soon the small corner pantry expanded to include the majority of the room it occupied and Rev James purchased large shelving units to accommodate the growing needs of the food pantry.
In 2015 , as a gift from the former Chaplain of the SCC, Rev Paul Walley a refrigerator freezer was purchased for the food pantry, greatly expanding the variety of items that can be distributed.
Over the years the food pantry has grown from a 2 hour once a week operation to multi-day multi-hour operation. A staff of volunteers helps to welcome students and staff to the food pantry. Many on campus groups contribute time and resources to the food pantry. The community and the churches that support the Student Christian Center have been generous in donating food and supplies and funding for the food pantry over the years of its existence. The food pantry has seen enormous growth of the 5 years of its existence and has been able to respond to that growth through contributions from the sources mentioned and local New Paltz businesses .