Berkeley College Foundation launches food pantry at Woodland Park Campus to combat ‘invisible epidemic’ of food insecuritySeptember 19, 2022
The Berkeley College Foundation celebrated the opening of a Food Pantry at Berkeley College’s Woodland Park campus during a ceremony on Wednesday, September 14, 2022. The student resource – the third pantry at a Berkeley College campus – ensures students have access to proper nourishment without sacrificing their education.
Ellen Zitis, Executive Director, Berkeley College Foundation, said the situation is referred to as an “invisible epidemic” that is spilling onto college campuses across the country. “The COVID-19 pandemic exposed issues where many people just did not think to look. Certainly food insecurity at colleges was one of them,” Zitis said.
The Community FoodBank of New Jersey estimates that 140,000 college students experience food insecurity across the Garden State. In 2011, the College & University Food Bank Alliance reported 88 college food pantries across the United States. In 2021, that number has grown to more than 700.
“Food insecurity is a problem that strikes at the heart of New Jersey and Passaic County,” said Diane Recinos, EdD, President of Berkeley College. “Our students are working hard in the classroom, at their internships, and at their jobs, but hunger can make it hard to focus, and hard to be successful.”
The food pantry was established in collaboration with the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, with additional donations from ShopRite of Passaic and Primepak. It offers not only meal essentials, but also household items and toiletries.
“Food insecurity is an issue being experienced by many college students nationwide and has increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation, which has caused costs of food and other basic needs to significantly increase,” said James Marshmon, Director, Student Development and Campus Life, who also serves as the Food Pantry Manager at Berkeley College in Woodland Park.
Berkeley College launched its first Food Pantry in Newark in 2019, made possible through a $10,000 donation from the Berkeley College Foundation. The Foundation established a second pantry at the College’s Midtown Manhattan campus in February 2021.
Photo Caption (L to R): James Marshmon, Director, Student Development and Campus Life and Food Pantry Manager; Kevin L. Luing, Board Chairman, Berkeley College; Diane Recinos, EdD, President of Berkeley College; Jocelyn Gonzalez, Berkeley College student; LaTysha Gaines, Campus Operating Officer, Berkeley College in Woodland Park, NJ; Ellen Zitis, Executive Director, Berkeley College Foundation; and Heather Eaton-Dwyer, Dean of Students, Berkeley College.
Jocelyn Gonzalez of Piscataway, NJ, a Berkeley College student and single mother, said she has utilized the food pantry since she enrolled in fall 2021.
“As a single mom, the food pantry has helped to lighten the load of everyday life,” said Gonzalez, who hopes to one day be a social worker. “It gives you more time to focus on your academics. We are here to be successful, career-driven individuals who give back to society the way Berkeley gives back to their students.”
The Berkeley College Foundation Food Pantry is open every other Wednesday during the fall 2022 semester and as needed for food emergencies. Students can also place orders online, which can be picked up at Berkeley College in Woodland Park. In addition, the Office of Student Development and Campus Life offers a “Grab and Go” option once a month, with themed bags of food such as breakfasts, lunches, or holiday dinner items.
The mission of the Berkeley College Foundation (BCF) is to provide support and resources to students pursuing quality experiences in higher education. Scholarships are awarded to current and prospective students to help defray the cost of tuition and to enhance participation in educational enrichment activities. The BCF also awards grants to other worthy educational institutions and nonprofit organizations. In addition, the BCF launched on-campus food pantries at Berkeley College campuses in Newark and New York City, establishing a much-needed resource to address the growing economic and food insecurity challenge in higher education. The BCF also provide a subsidized MetroCard program. Based in New Jersey, the charitable organization received 501(c) 3 status in 2015.