Food scarcity is an issue on Wellesley’s campus that often goes unaddressed, especially during semester breaks when dining halls are open at odd hours or not at all. This year, student and faculty volunteers have worked to make sure that everyone has 24/7 access to food on campus.
Before Wintersession, Kristen Park, the community director for Severance and Claflin Halls, coordinated the opening of the food pantries. They were located in the first floor kitchen of Lake House and the first floor kitchen of Stone-Davis, to the left of the elevators. Any student was welcome to take the food that was available, which included dry food options like mac and cheese, ramen noodles and granola bars in addition to items like bread, string cheese, yogurt, oatmeal and even fruits and vegetables.
Park explained that the mission of the pantries was to help students who might be struggling to put meals together while the dining halls were closed from Dec. 21 to Jan. 1. Bates opened up on Jan. 1 on a pay-per-meal basis — breakfast cost $5.50, lunch cost $7.75 and dinner cost $8.75.
The food pantries did not stay open after Wintersession, and it is not clear if they are going to be open during semester breaks in the future, but Park is hopeful that they will. Adele Rousseau ’23, who helps out with the food pantry, said that “What is important is that, if students are struggling with food scarcity, then Wellesley needs to be aware. Students who want to support or who are in need of a food pantry at Wellesley need to be vocal.”
The food pantry opened for the first time this past Wintersession in collaboration with Wellesley African Students Association (WASA), the Office of Residential Life and First Gen Network. Emails including details about the food pantries were sent at the beginning of Wintersession.
Rousseau wants the conversation about food scarcity at Wellesley to open up: “The more attention the need for a food pantry gets, the more likely it can grow into something that can help students at the level they need. No one should be ashamed to discuss food scarcity, and it’s a discussion that needs to happen.” Rousseau hopes that in the future, nutritious options will consistently be in stock in the pantries.
Sylvia Zeamer ’21 also wants this issue to gain attention. She says that she spent her first Wintersession at Wellesley constantly hungry because she did not have the money to buy basic groceries at the time. Zeamer is glad to hear that this resource exists now, but finds it “pretty upsetting” that students have to rely on food pantries at all — she believes that the dining halls should give low-income students dining hall access during Wintersession.
“It’s not as though it would be a hardship for the institution, and the fact that it isn’t [available] is potentially leaving some of our most vulnerable students at a disadvantage … [the food pantry] is one of those things that I’m glad exists, but emphatically shouldn’t have to exist in the first place,” said Zeamer.If students have any questions or comments about the pantry, they are encouraged to contact Kristen Park at firstname.lastname@example.org.