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Milligan's Food Pantry Addresses Student Hunger

Milligan's Food Pantry Addresses Student Hunger

Posted: January 26, 2018

In order to alleviate hunger on college campuses, Governor Andrew Cuomo wants all schools within the State University of New York (SUNY) to offer food pantries or provide another stigma-free way for students to consistently have access to healthy foods.

Buffalo State has been doing exactly that for almost two decades with its Milligan’s Food Pantry, which serves nearly 400 students on campus each year.

Originally under the auspices of Weigel Wellness Center, Milligan’s became part of the Student Life Office in 2016. Although the pantry is located in the Campbell Student Union basement, students order the needed food online and pick it up in the Student Life Office. 

During the 2016–2017 academic year, students made a total of 726 visits to the pantry.

“There are a variety of reasons why students rely on the food pantry,” said Kristen Helling, assistant director of student life. “One common reason I hear is that when students move off campus they’re finding it difficult to balance school and jobs. They don’t have money left over in their budgets for food.”

College hunger, however, is a nationwide problem.

In a 2016 national survey (PDF), nearly half of students said they had experienced food insecurity (having limited access to nutritious food) within the past 30 days. To answer the need, at least 573 U.S. colleges now provide food pantries, according to the College and University Food Bank Alliance.

Members of Buffalo State Counseling Center and the Critical Incident Support Team recognized this need in 2000 and founded the pantry. One of the staff members, the Rev. Linda Harle-Mould, named it Milligan’s in honor of a restaurant in Tri State College, Indiana, that helped her father years earlier. When he was a struggling college student and musician, Milligan’s quietly let him run a tab until his check came in. He played with a band that later became the Glenn Miller Orchestra and never forgot the dignified way the restaurant treated him.

Harle-Mould wanted Buffalo State’s food pantry to feed students in the same respectful fashion.

In 2016, the Student Life Office took another step in helping students anonymously through a streamlined online order system.

“Students can specify what they want,” said Helling. “And they can come back as many times as they need. There is no limit.”

The only qualification is that students bring a Buffalo State photo ID to pick up their order.

Last summer, Helling attended a Presidents United to Solve Hunger (PUSH) conference attended by college and university representatives from around the world.

“I realized the online order form we have is pretty cutting-edge because I received requests from other schools to replicate it on their campuses,” she said.

To keep the pantry stocked, faculty, staff, and student organizations are encouraged to donate. The most needed items include instant meals, macaroni and cheese, pasta, spaghetti sauce, crackers, granola bars, nuts, cereal, oatmeal, juice, canned meat, tuna, and fruit. Donations can be dropped off at the Student Life Office. To make a monetary donation, contact Claire Collier, donor relations officer, in Cleveland Hall 304. 

Students can access Milligan’s Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. In addition, the Newman Center can assist students on Sundays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. 

For more information, call (716) 878-4631.

In the News: Cuomo: All SUNY schools need an on-campus food pantry

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