"Eating is a necessity, not a privilege" is the maxim that drove Stacey Eddy '18's senior thesis planning. Throughout her time at Wells, Stacey—a non-traditional commuter student and psychology major—has worked to identify issues that affect the health of the campus community. Now in her senior year, she has dedicated herself to resolving challenges to food access for students and locals alike by establishing a student-run food pantry.
A 2016 study by the College and University Food Bank Alliance, National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, Student Government Resource Center and Student Public Interest Research Groups reported that forty eight percent of respondents experienced food insecurity within the prior month. Race and first-generation status play a significant role in this student hunger. These factors and more influenced Stacey's decision to focus on food accessibility and sustainability for her senior thesis project—to move beyond being shocked by numbers and critically engage with the possibility of student food sovereignty.
Over the course of the fall 2017 semester, Stacey transformed an empty, unused office space in the basement of Cleveland Hall. She applied her knowledge of proper procedure, research into requirements and regulations, and willingness to persist through lengthy bureaucratic processes—resulting in a new alternative food source for students.
"Academically this fulfilled my thesis requirement. Personally, I wanted to leave Wells in a better way than when I found her, by giving something that will last even after I graduate," Stacey said. "People should have access to food which fits all of their needs. Food is part of everything, not just nutrition. We eat at weddings, funerals, birthdays—we get together as people and eat and talk and be together."
Shortly after approval for the Cleveland basement office, donations started flooding in. The pantry opened November 9, and formerly empty shelves quickly filled with a multitude of items such as soups, rice, homemade chili powder, nuts, granola, and toiletries. The centerpiece of the pantry was a display of fresh vegetables from the campus community garden, established last spring by students and professors, as well as an assortment of kale and squash from Professor of Psychology and Gender Studies Vic Muñoz's garden.
While the food pantry was Stacey's senior project, it will remain up and operating after she walks across the graduation stage in May. In addition to convening a dedicated network of student volunteers, Stacey has registered the pantry with the College and University Food Bank Association (CUFBA) and will be working with the Food Bank of Central New York to help with food supply. Starting this spring, eight student volunteers will operate the pantry between the hours of 12 and 2 p.m. and 4 and 8 p.m. daily.
"My hope is to bring together that community, the sense of consciousness, respect for self and others—something to work together on as Wells moves forward," she notes, "Food can feed the mind, body and soul, and I believe the pantry can unite Wells through students helping each other and other non-student members of the Wells community."
Stacey recognizes that she could not have undergone this project alone and extends appreciation to everyone who supported her throughout the pantry's creation, and those who will sustain it into the future—with special thanks to the psychology and sociology departments, Dean of Students Jenn Michael and Provost and Dean of the College Cindy Speaker.
To all that carried the food pantry from possibility to reality: thank you! Connect with the food pantry on social media at facebook.com/wellscollegefoodpantry.