Campus Cupboard provides food for students

Julia Snyder

Associate News Editor

Finding balance between classes and part-time employment during college is a challenge that many college kids face. In some cases, students may have to choose between getting enough sleep, completing their assignments or working a few extra hours in order to pay their bills or buy food. The stress of finding a happy balance between responsibilities can often be more overwhelming than the tasks that students are trying to balance. When students are struggling to make ends meet, the Campus Cupboard located in The Hub offers a solution for the price of food.

The Hub is a student lounge located in the bottom of the A-frame church on George Street. It is widely considered a place on campus for students to gather and relax. Although The Hub is located in the bottom of a church, it is considered a secular lounge. In addition to being a place to play billiards and enjoy an occasional french toast dinner, The Hub is also hope to the Campus Cupboard.

Students are able to utilize the marketplace of the Campus Cupboard to supplement their meal plans or make ends meet in their off-campus kitchens. There are criteria that students must meet in order to be eligible to shop at the cupboard, which are based on the income level of participants. These criteria are provided from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Students who are interested in shopping at the cupboard can find more information about the criteria at The Hub.

The Campus Cupboard has been a part of Millersville University’s campus for three years. The original idea for the cupboard came from Kirstin Shrom-Rhoads, a campus minister.  Since it’s opening in the spring of 2012, control of the cupboard has been passed to Ed Weber.

“My predecessor… Kirstin Shrom-Rhoads, she was campus minister here and had a vision for what she discovered was just a need that hadn’t been addressed; food and security. So she came up with the initial plan, put it together and launched the food pantry in the spring of 2012… We’ve been trying to build on the work that she started… The credit for the initial vision goes to Kirstin,” said Weber.

Weber lists the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank in Harrisburg as one of the main sources of food for the cupboard; the cupboard is a partner agency of the food bank, which allows the organization to buy food in bulk for reasonable prices. Weber also lists members of the community as patrons of the cupboard, which includes everyone from local residents of Millersville Borough to alumni and individual professors. Support for the cupboard also comes from the Millersville Alumni Association and Student Senate.

“I think it’s useful to students because… there has been a dramatic change to the meal plan so people are actually having less meals and a lot can’t afford to eat so I feel like this is beneficial because it allows them to get the extra nourishment they will need to actually do well in their classes,” said student volunteer Brittney Brown. Brown began volunteering at the Campus Cupboard in the fall semester of 2015.

Jason Iyobhebhe and Brittney Brown are student volunteers at Campus Cupboard. Photo courtesy of Julie Florek.
Jason Iyobhebhe and Brittney Brown are student volunteers at Campus Cupboard. Photo courtesy of Julie Florek.

Students begin volunteering for a myriad of reasons. One of the merits of the Campus Cupboard is that it is a place where students form a community that is built on support. For those who may be uncomfortable with the idea of admitting that they need help making ends meet, the Hub provides a non-judgemental solution.

“The location is actually convenient because technically the hub is a student lounge… It’s like a judgement-free zone. Just being in this atmosphere kind of makes it easier for students… to know where to come,” said Brown

The number of people who shop at the Campus Cupboard fluctuates based on the weather and the day. The cupboard even has a group of students who return shop around the same time each week;

“You kind of develop a relationship with them [the regular customers],” said Jason Iyobhebhe, a new addition to the group of  Campus Cupboard volunteers. “I think people just stop through just to hang out with [Ed Weber], he’s a very good person.”