Kathy Shay had just finished teaching one of her math classes, and was packing up to leave.
A student approached her.
“Can I borrow a dollar for the vending machines?” he asked.
The next class, that same student needed another dollar for food. They were his first meals of the day.
“As faculty, we see hungry students in class, and it is hard for them to pay attention,” she said. “The need is clear.”
That was in the back of her mind when Dr. Shay attended the Anti Poverty Network of New Jersey Summit.
“That’s when I became aware of the prevalence of food insecurity among college students, and I learned about other New Jersey colleges that had opened food pantries for their students,” she said. “I spoke with other members of the campus community who were concerned about hunger on campus, and we formed a committee to investigate what it would take to open and operate a food pantry at MCC.”
The committee created a proposal and submitted it to Mark McCormick, vice president for academic and student affairs, who presented it to the College administration. It was approved and the MCC Cares Food Pantry opened on January 29.
The pantry is in College Center room 170 B and will be open Mondays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursdays from 2-6 p.m. Anyone wishing to donate nutritional canned and non-perishable food or personal hygiene items should bring them to the Student Life Office in College Center 213. The committee includes Professors Jennifer Altman, Alexandra Fields, Brian Lavey, Patricia Payne; and Charlotte Quigley and Arianna Illa of Career Services; Alumni President Dorothy Bitetto; Timothy Hack, chair of History and Social Sciences; and Dr. Shay. Mary Tutalo of Student Life will coordinate the pantry and organize volunteers.
“Dr. McCormick asked me to coordinate the pantry, and I was thrilled to get involved,” she said. “First, I love working with students. My goal is to help them become successful and anything I can do to further that I embrace.
“I’m also thrilled to be part of a college initiative that is being proactive to help ensure all students have enough to eat and are then able to focus on academics. Our student clubs do food drives throughout the year, and that is great. But it is also wonderful to know that our donations will now stay close to home and help our own.”