“Students rely on the food pantry for a variety of reasons,” Helling said. “At the end of each semester, we usually see more requests, as students start running out of money in their campus meal accounts.”
Milligan’s became part of the Student Life Office in 2016. Although the pantry is located in the Campbell Student Union, students order online, and the pantry staff puts the bags together for pickup.
It’s part of a larger plan to combat hunger on college campuses. In 2018, the New York State Governor’s Office announced the “No Student Goes Hungry Program,” calling for food pantries or stigma-free access to free food at all SUNY and CUNY schools.
With the sharp increase in grocery prices over the past year—13.5 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics—the need for the pantry is greater than ever, Helling said.
Last fall, Milligan’s, which is located on the fourth floor of the Campbell Student Union, started offering students fresh food choices, including dairy items and produce, in addition the traditional nonperishable items, thanks to a SUNY grant that funded a refrigerator.
“The refrigerator has been a game-changer,” Helling said.
This year, Milligan’s also received a freezer, which was funded through a $30,000 United Healthcare grant. In addition to the freezer, the grant funds a graduate assistant to increase the pantry’s hours of operation and education and marketing initiatives, and to assist with data collection and reporting.
Along with an assortment of food, the pantry offers laundry detergent and toiletries, such as shampoo and feminine hygiene products, all of which, Helling said, are in high demand.
“Students can come back as many times as they need,” she said. “There is no limit.”
The pantry holds at least one organized drive on campus each year. Currently, it’s hosting a Thanksgiving Food Drive through Tuesday, November 22.
Helling said many departments across campus contribute to the drive, which helps students not only at the holidays but also all year long.
She noted that no donation is too small and requested that donations include only labeled and unopened packages, commercially made items, food items that have not expired, and non-alcoholic products. Those interested in making a monetary donation are asked to contact Claire Collier, donor relations officer in Institutional Advancement, Cleveland Hall 304, (716) 878-5206.
Students can access Milligan’s Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. In addition, the Newman Center can assist students on Sundays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
For more information, please email Kristen Helling or call (716) 878-4618.
Pictured top: Kristen Helling, student resources coordinator for the Dean of Students Office.