Loch Sheldrake, NY—SUNY Sullivan hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, October 22, to formally open the SUNY Sullivan Food Pantry, which offers a variety of food, toiletries, and weekly fresh vegetables from SUNY Sullivan Community Garden and Hope Farm to the SUNY Sullivan community. The new Food Pantry—a partnership of the Episcopal Diocese of New York Campus Ministry, Delaware Catskill Episcopal Ministry, and SUNY Sullivan—opened earlier this year in response to the increased food and financial insecurity faced by students and staff as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The unfortunate reality is that too many students in New York and across the country suffer from food insecurity. It was a problem prior to the pandemic, but the demand has risen during this difficult period,” said SUNY Sullivan President Jay Quaintance. “We believe that it is unconscionable that in 2021 students should have to worry where their next meal will come from, whether for themselves or their family. In our continuous efforts to remove as many barriers to student success as possible, we have been fortunate to partner with the Episcopal Diocese, New Hope Community, Ulster Savings Charitable Foundation, SUNY Ulster Food Pantry, SUNY System Administration, the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan, and our own SUNY Sullivan Foundation to provide greater access to quality foods and sundries. Thank you to all who have worked to bring this expanded Food Pantry to our college community.”
Participants and attendees included Quaintance, State Senator Mike Martucci, Sullivan County Legislator Michael Brooks, New York Episcopal Diocese Assistant Bishop Rt. Rev. Mary D. Glasspool, Canon Missioner of the Delaware Catskill Episcopal Ministry Rev. Diana Southwick Scheide, Delaware Catskill Episcopal Ministry Vicar, Rev. Jean-Pierre Seguin, SUNY Sullivan student Adonis Morano, and SUNY Sullivan Trustees Lyman Holmes, Penny Coombe, and Nichole Connal.
“The Delaware Catskill Ministry—a collaboration of four Episcopal churches in the Sullivan/Orange County region (St James, Callicoon; St Andrew’s, Fallsburg; St John’s Monticello; and Grace Church Port Jervis)—is excited to come together with SUNY Sullivan and Episcopal Campus Ministries to rejuvenate the campus Food Pantry,” said, Rev. Scheide. “We believe that when community comes together, we can do more than we can ever do alone. We know that every little bit helps, and we hope that our presence will enhance the community; helping students, faculty, and staff live healthy, happier lives.”
While SUNY Sullivan had maintained a small food pantry for students in the Student Activities Office, the dramatic increase in food and financial insecurity experienced by the college community during the pandemic required an urgent and broader effort. Established with the generous financial support of the Ulster Savings Charitable Foundation and SUNY Ulster Food Pantry—as well as donations from the Research Foundation for SUNY, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Sullivan County, SUNY Sullivan Community Garden, and St. John’s Caring Hands Food Pantry, Monticello—the food pantry now has a dedicated room (B105), a refrigerator and standalone freezer, and is open two days a week and by appointment. Other community-supported efforts to help ease food insecurity on campus during the pandemic included the SUNY Sullivan Foundation starting a Food Insecurity Fund in Spring 2020 with an internal donation of $10,000. That funding—enhanced by a $5,000 donation from the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan and additional donations by college staff—has enabled the Student Activities Office to support students in need with $100 grocery/gift cards, as well as meals during the holiday season.
SUNY Sullivan Instructional Assistant and Community Garden Coordinator Kathryn Scullion said that, with more space, additional volunteers, and refrigeration, the pantry can now serve many more students, with a much greater variety of food and other essential products. “I’m so excited that we can share fresh, healthy produce from the Community Garden and Hope Farm with the College community through the pantry,” said Scullion. “Volunteering with the Food Pantry interconnects perfectly with my work on sustainability and wellness initiatives at the college. I love sharing food, growing food, and helping people learn to grow their own food.”
Scullion said the Community Garden has shared lots of tomatoes, onions, radishes, and swiss chard with the Pantry, and that Hope Farm has provided potatoes, onions, carrots, squash, peppers, radishes, kale, lettuce, collard greens, herbs, and leeks. In addition, Scullion said the college’s Wellness Committee recently hosted a nutrition/cooking workshop in the Community Garden led by Bee Moser, nutritionist for SNAP-Ed New York Hudson Valley at Cornell Cooperative Extension Sullivan County. The workshop focused on teaching ways to make healthy meals using food pantry staples and produce from the Garden and Farm.
Collaboration is what has made the Food Pantry possible, said Rev. Jean-Pierre Seguin, vicar, Delaware Catskill Episcopal Ministry.
“Every week I meet people interested not only in what the pantry provides but also in contributing to its success,” said Seguin. “Working in the pantry at SUNY Sullivan is a highlight of my week. I look forward to what we will be able to do together to build community and support the well-being of everyone on campus.”
SUNY Sullivan Freshman Jacqueline VanGordon said she’s grateful to be involved with the Food Pantry. “I think the food pantry is a great idea,” said VanGordon, a humanities major. “I like donating when I can, and, when I might need something, it’s nice to have.”
Debra Waller-Frederick, Associate Dean of Student Engagement and Food Pantry board member, said that the new Food Pantry is making a big difference in the lives of students and others on campus, especially with rising prices for food and other items adding to other economic disruptions caused by the pandemic.
“As we have all seen at the checkout line, the cost of groceries has been steadily increasing. Those increased costs have greatly impacted many of our students and others in the college community,” said Waller-Frederick. “To say that our visitors are grateful for the variety of food and toiletries is an understatement. One student shared that her family is barely making ends meet, so access to the Pantry has reduced the stress they feel on a weekly basis. Her comment is merely one example of the GREAT work we are doing as a community.”
The SUNY Sullivan Food Pantry offers non-perishable food, toiletries, as well as weekly fresh vegetables from SUNY Sullivan Community Garden to the SUNY Sullivan community on an as needed basis. Available food includes canned vegetables, beans, pasta, cereals, granola bars, snacks, frozen chicken, almond milk and other shelf-safe beverages, among other items. Waller-Frederick said that the Pantry welcomes all donations, but the Pantry is particularly in need of toiletries, such as full-size shampoo, conditioner and body wash, as well as hand soap, laundry detergent, toilet paper, feminine products, baby wipes, diapers and other personal products.
The Food Pantry is located in room B105 and is open Wednesday and Thursdays from 12-3 pm and by appointment. Donations of toiletries and non-perishable, unexpired food are welcome (and can be delivered to the pantry during open hours). Monetary donations are preferred so that Food Pantry staff can purchase and stock up on food and other items most in need. Monetary donations can be dropped off at or mailed to the SUNY Sullivan Student Activities Office, Room H122, 112 College Road, Loch Sheldrake, NY 12759. Checks should be made out “SUNY Sullivan FSA” with “food pantry” written in the memo. Food and toiletry donations can be dropped off at the Student Activities Office, or at the Pantry on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 12:00–3:00 pm. For more information about the food pantry, please email email@example.com.