Forum is UP!!!

Hey all -

We heard from many of you that you would like a space to connect, converse, share, and support. We are working on doing that in a number of ways, and one of those is our new Forum here on the website. It’s easy to register, and we hope that everyone does! Pose questions, share resources, and discuss pertinent topics in our work.

Let us know if you run into any snags or issues. We will work to iron them out.

Nate and Clare

Virginia Tech Food Pantry Feeds Students In Need

Way to go VT!



Have an article you want us to share? Send it to us at


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A pic of our web page to go on the web page…how meta of us

We get asked for all kinds of information: budgets, startup plans, contracts, check lists, MOUs, newsletters, event ideas…the list goes on and on and on. We love to be able to provide you with the ongoing 1:1 care that we could back when we started up, but our growth has been amazing and Nate and I just don’t have the time for everyone anymore. It’s a great problem to have in some ways – we will reach the 200 mark in campuses that have joined CUFBA this year!

So our new goal is this: get information, curate it, organize it, and share. Share broadly. Share widely. Share freely.

We will be starting to increase the items on the site that you can download and use as you serve students. What would be really helpful to us is to know what we should start with. Perhaps there are folks out there who want to know more about managing their storage so that items don’t expire. Perhaps it would be helpful for us to share budget templates, or sample MOUs with nonprofits, or intake paperwork. Our goal is to make that more easily available so that campuses can come to the site to get what they need, and if they have more challenging questions they can bring them to the group or the leadership. Sound good?

We need two things from you all:

1) Requests for where we should start. What do you want???

2) If you have items you think other campuses would like to use, please provide them for us to share.

We will be posting collections and tools by category, and once we know what would be best to start, we will work on that. If you have requests, or you want to give us items to share please email

VCU Rampantry Recognized by their President

Check out this blog post from Virginia Commonwealth University’s President Michael Rao, who writes about the Ram Pantry!


Is your the work you are doing at your campus pantry in the news? Send us a link and we will share!

Food Bank Newsletter Inspiration

Some of the CUFBA schools write newsletters that come out each month, or quarter, or semester. Newsletters are a great way to:

  • Share information about your work such as clients served, food distributed, volunteer hours, donations received, or other metrics.
  • Recognize your staff and/or volunteers.
  • Provide lists of food items or other supplies you need.
  • Offer other resources (beyond your services) to clients or community members.
  • Communicate updates such as changes in location, procedure, eligibility requirements, etc.
  • List distribution times and/or locations.
  • Help people learn how they can volunteer or donate.
  • Whatever else you can dream up.

Here is a great example of a pantry newsletter from Michigan State University.

Food Bank Newsletter 2014


Job Opportunity: Single Stop USA

If you have been working with a campus-based food pantry and are looking to continue serving low-income students please check out this job posting at Single Stop USA.

Single Stop believes that finding things such as low-cost healthcare, nutrition assistance, and financial aid should be as straightforward as purchasing an item from your favorite online store. Inspired by the convenience of consumer-facing programs like and Yelp, Single Stop is building a platform that is projected to reach millions of households. This tool will take Single Stop’s proven service model to its most ambitious scale.

Of the 12 million students enrolled in community college, half drop out. Many do so because of financial barriers. Completing school is not merely an educational achievement, but leads to better jobs and a more secure financial future. The unemployment rate for those with an associate’s degree is just over 4%. Early reports show that Single Stop can increase retention by double digits, helping families, increasing the skilled labor force, and growing the national economy.

For more information go to

Origins: Norwalk Community College

The most common question we get from campuses looking to start up a pantry is “how did YOU get started?” We will be posting the ‘Origins’ series to share the tales of our member schools in their work supporting food insecure students.

Rachael Lederman DiPietro, CT Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA, Co-founder, Norwalk Community College

I didn’t even know what I didn’t know. That’s the best way to start off talking about the journey I’ve been on as the Connecticut Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA at Norwalk Community College tasked with starting a food pantry. I myself graduated from Norwalk Community College (NCC) in 2012, and so upon completing my Bachelor’s degree this past summer at Trinity College in Hartford, CT I felt a duty and obligation to be of service to the place that gave me a second chance at life. At NCC I learned about how to take initiative, how to advocate for myself, and the connection between engagement and academic success. So I owed them.

I started my VISTA service in July and truth be told, I knew non-academic barriers stood in the way of college persistence and success, both from my own experience and watching my classmates struggle, but I didn’t necessarily see the connection with food insecurity. That is until I started to google however. From approximately July to September I sat at my desk trying to absorb every piece of information (and there isn’t much out there) on food insecurity and college campuses. I was fortunate to have another VISTA in my cohort who had worked on a food pantry the previous year at another college campus in Connecticut. Erin gave me a tour of how the Three Rivers Community College food pantry worked, shared all the forms they used with me, and even graciously gave me the proposal they had used to college management to get approval on the project.

So that’s what I did from July until late September. I read. And then I read some more. There is really no data on food insecurity on our college campus and so I figured out ways to piece it together. I looked at data for participation and eligibility for free/reduced price breakfast and lunch programs for our feeder K-12 schools. Based on this data which showed around 48% of students were eligible for these programs it’s easy to see how these students lose this safety net upon graduating and their families are faced with expenses they have not previously incurred.

I then researched food insecurity as a general issue in our area. NCC is in Fairfield County, CT which is perceived to be incredibly wealthy. However, one in ten families in Fairfield County struggles with food insecurity, leaving them unsure where their next meal is coming from (FCCF, 2013). Almost one in five residents in Fairfield County cities live in poverty. Nationally, the average cost of a meal is $2.52, but this cost is $3.17 in Fairfield County. “Half of the food insecure people in Fairfield County do not qualify for federal aid” (Feeding America, Map the Meal Gap, 2011). Why does this matter? Because the discrepancy between the federal poverty threshold and the high cost of living in the area around NCC results in an unserved food insecure population.

All of this research, on the need for this on our campus was then tied to the growing research on food insecurity amongst college students. If you have not yet checked out Maya Maroto’s writings on the way in which the rates of food insecure community college students exceed the national average and that food insecurity amongst this population has a negative effect on student GPA, levels of energy, and concentration- DO IT! This all impacts ones persistence, retention, and academic success. Addressing food insecurity at NCC is directly related to our educational mission.

Space is one of the most political and precious commodities on campus and so the hardest part of the process was securing a space for the pantry. To do so we -myself, the Coordinator of Service Learning Courtney Anstett who is a co-founder of the pantry, and the Director of Adult Learning Kristina Testa-Buzzee under whom I serve- really had to justify the need for a pantry on campus. Knowing this was a growing movement on college campuses thanks to the network of CUFBA, armed with the facts I brought a proposal to the management of the college. The proposal was approved and then the fun really began.

Four years ago as a student at NCC I started an event called “Day of Thanks” (DOT). The idea behind this event was that rather than the 40 something clubs on campus all doing separate clothing/food/toiletry/toy drives it would be infinitely more impactful if we all worked together. A month long collection drive with all clubs participating in DOT was undertaken and culminated with a day of service and sorting. That first year almost 100 students helped us make PB&J sandwiches, sort through clothing, toys, and food to donate to local charities, and made fleece blankets for a shelter.

Building off DOT, which was now an annual event in its fourth year, we had a food focused collection drive. 2014’s Hunger Games Edition of DOT was a competition between 23 “districts” (made up of different departments and clubs on campus) to see who could collect the most non-perishable food items. Over 4,000 items were collected through the drive with our Medical Assistant Club winning the competition with a whopping 756 items. This event was held on November 13th and with the pantry not opening until late January, we gave away all holiday related items, along with items that would soon expire to local pantries. Everything else was held onto and this left us with a really strong start to the NCC Food Pantry.

The time between November 13th and our move-in date the third week of January was spent trying to figure out where to store everything in the meantime, how to advertise the service, what hours we should be open, how best to do intake and just generally what I had gotten myself into!

After having to reschedule several times due to snow the NCC food pantry had a ribbon cutting ceremony on February 11th, 2015. We’ve technically been open since February 3rd and in our first 11 days we have served 24 students.

Every day we are figuring it out a bit more and readjusting as needed. We still have a ton more work to do to get the word out and build a sustainability plan. However so far our volunteers have been amazing, our faculty and staff continue to stop by and ask us what we need, and our students are not only grateful, but truly feel like the school actually cares.


Quick hits of things that we’ve found to work (in our very humble and new opinion):

1)      Bi-monthly emails to faculty/staff asking for a specific donation- this week we requested oatmeal and cereal… because breakfast is the most important meal of the day

2)      We have Service Learning at NCC and the pantry is now listed as one of the sites where students can do service learning hours

3)      All of our forms (waiver, intake, recommendations) are through Google forms so no manual data entry has to occur






Stocking Foods For Startup Part 2: fresh and frozen

Some campuses have the ability to distribute fresh and frozen foods along with non-perishables. Most do not start with this, but as they grow and develop they are able to add fridges and freezers to their inventory. Here are some suggestions for foods that are good to stock when starting to distribute fresh and frozen foods.

Frozen protein: ground beef, ground turkey, chicken drumsticks.

Fresh protein: eggs, tofu

Frozen vegetables: peas and carrots, beans, peas

Fresh vegetables: potatoes, carrots, cabbage (good to start with things that keep a while)

Frozen fruit: blueberries, peaches, strawberries (these can be expensive, but are highly prized)

Fresh fruit: oranges, apples, juices

Frozen meals: pizzas, tv-style dinners, pastas

Fresh dairy/dairy alternatives: margarine, shelf-stable milk (if you can keep it cold it is more popular), almond/soy/rice milk, yogurt (which can also be frozen)

Other items: sauces (pesto, tomato)

Stocking Foods for Startup

So you got it all lined up – space, personnel, and FUNDING!!!!

Some food pantries rely only on direct donations of food, and others purchase what they distribute either at cost, wholesale, or through a local food bank. A common question when one is poised looking at shelves to fill for that first distribution is “what do we buy? Here is a list of suggestions for those who are stocking non-perishables only.

This is a list of the most commonly used items we know of per food category. We recommend that you track what foods are most popular so you can stock accordingly. Also, many campus pantries have a mission that includes foods that are culturally, religiously, or medically significant for clients. It helps to ask clients to identify these foods the first time they sign in. You can use this list to inform your purchasing in the future.

Canned vegetables: corn, beans, peas, tomatoes (crushed, diced, sauce…all are great)

Canned fruit: peaches, pears, apple sauce

Canned soups: bring in a wide variety. The concentrates are good, but the ones that can just be opened and heated up are more popular. Be sure to get vegetarian options.

Boxed/packaged Meals: macaroni and cheese, hamburger helper and rice-a-roni style meals. We highly recommend avoiding Top Ramen unless requested by your students.

Grains: rice (white and brown), pastas, mashed potato flakes, oats, cereals, corn meal/masa. Have at least one gluten-free option.

Protein: peanut/almond butter, nuts, beans (canned and/or dried), lentils, tuna, canned chicken, spam, shelf-stable tofu. Be sure to have some vegetarian options.

Misc food items: cooking oil, spices, sauces (these are awesome to have, but can be hard to come by or expensive)

Other items: toilet paper, cleaning supplies (same as the misc items – they can be hard to get and/or expensive)


What other items do you think are good starter stock-ups?

Norwalk Community College Launches Campus Pantry

Check out this great article about the newest pantry on the block – congrats Norwalk CC!

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