BOSTON — The University of Massachusetts Boston has announced plans to open an on-campus food pantry, not as part of a student service project, but to feed hungry students having trouble making ends meets.
The pantry is being launched by the college’s Office of Urban and Off-Campus Support Services Program, which serves about 70 students, nearly half of whom are either homeless or on the verge of homelessness, program director Shirley Fan-Chan said.
The pantry may be the first of its kind in Massachusetts, she said.
“I don’t think this is something that is rare,” she said of poverty among college students. “It has been existing, and we haven’t been talking about it.”
Patrick Day, vice chancellor for student affairs, said amid the broader discussion of hunger issues the college student population is often overlooked.
Most students don’t quality for food stamps because they are still considered dependent on their parents, and because they attend classes or work during the day, they are unable to visit conventional pantries, Fan-Chan told The Boston Globe.
The commuter school that serves a largely urban population ran a pilot program in December, distributing 20 food bags to needy students. The response was so positive the university decided to expand.
The college will hand out bags containing tuna, pasta, peanut butter and other items. Students who have children or others in their household will be given more food.
Most of the donations are from UMass-Boston faculty and staff, many of whom remember struggling while in college, Fan-Chan said.