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The Brandeis Food Pantry Found a New Home in The Shapiro Campus Center

The Brandeis food pantry which was previously known as FRESH food pantry has found a new home in the Shapiro Campus Center.

March 19, 2024

The Brandeis food pantry, earlier known as FRESH food pantry, was founded in June 2018. Initially, the food pantry was oriented towards the graduate students but later on, it opened its doors to all members of the Brandeis community experiencing food insecurity.

Since it was founded in June 2018, the Brandeis food pantry has moved from the office of Graduate Affairs to the Usdan Game room and now to room 316 in the Shapiro Campus Center. Besides this, the Brandeis food pantry partnered with Healthy Waltham, a local food pantry giving donations to the Brandeis food pantry since it was founded.

The Vice President of Student Affairs Andrea Dine commented on some of the reasons responsible for this switch during an interview held on March 13. The Dine said that the fall 2023 construction of Usda prompted the move from the Usdan game room to look for a suitable location. Dine also mentioned some of the assets of the new pantry location and said, “[The BFP] was literally in the game room. So it was super public, super open. And so it was very visible who was coming in, taking things or not because it’s a glass wall there.”

Dine is hoping that the new location, Shapiro Campus Center will be at once more private and accessible. Dine also noted that for the first time, the Brandeis food pantry has a refrigerator despite not serving the perishable items at this time.

The Vice President of Student Affairs added that moving the Brandeis Food Pantry to the Shapiro Campus Center did not bring any change in the number of students receiving food. The data reveals that the number of students having food items from the Brandeis food pantry ranges from 40 to 60 and somewhere around the fifties. Moreover, half of the students who have registered for the food items at the food pantry do not even pick it up. The Vice President revealed that they are currently getting food for 44 students out of which, only 24 students pick up the food.

Dine showcased her concern for the graduate student population. Compared to the 12% of U.S. citizens, 17% of graduate students experience food insecurity. Dine describes food insecurity as the complex web of financial need. Food insecurity is a piece while balancing different needs such as housing, transportation, and others. She expects to create more financial resources for graduate students and keep these elements in mind for the future.

A fourth-year graduate student named Olivia Leland discussed the issue of food insecurity for graduate students. She revealed that she used numerous food pantries at the time when she was an undergraduate and then got connected to the users of the Brandeis food pantry.

Leland pointed out the most significant change in the Brandeis food pantry that has impacted its functioning. The Brandeis food pantry is asking the recipients to register via an online form to receive bags of non-perishables. Leland received an email attributing the need for this system to the “overwhelming presence at the pantry open house”. Dine revealed that the participation in the food pantry has been made stable now.

Leland also discussed the role of food insecurity in the graduate student unionization process. Leland explained, “That system came out right before our election and I think for a lot of people it solidified ‘yeah, we need to do this’ … We’ve already had so many issues with food insecurity and that was the icing on the cake.”

Also, she feels that lots of graduate students are looking for healthier and cookable options from the food pantry. The food pantry is looking forward to using its new fridge to distribute the produce further.

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Zachary Zoe. “The Brandeis Food Pantry finds a new home in the Shapiro Campus Center”. The Justice, March 19, 2024,
The Brandeis Food Pantry finds a new home in the Shapiro Campus Center | The Justice

Last Updated: September 20, 2021