The Slippery Rock Student Government Association (SGA) accomplished a year-long task by officially opening Bob’s Market at the Macoskey Center’s Earth Day celebration Saturday afternoon.
Elizabeth Hernandez, SGA vice president of student and academic affairs, led the project throughout the year as her committee solidified Bob’s Market’s final location in the first floor of the Macoskey Center.
The food pantry, named after Bob Macoskey, was created to address food insecurity, or the inability to access food consistently, on SRU’s college campus.
According to SGA’s student life survey from fall 2018, 30 percent of survey respondents said they knew at least one student (including themselves) who didn’t have consistent access to food. Hernandez added that the majority of these students were commuters, a demographic of students who aren’t required to purchase a meal plan.
“The people who live on campus who have meal plans don’t necessarily have food insecurity because they have those meal plans they always use from week to week, so the ones that are suffering from food insecurity are commuters who live off campus,” Hernandez said.
In addition to non-perishable food items, the pantry also contains cases of water bottles, feminine hygiene products, tissues and cleaning supplies.
The Macoskey Center also donated a refrigerator and garden plot to provide fresh produce for the pantry.
“There’s a lot of potential growth for this, and just because it’s up and running now doesn’t mean that it can’t grow much bigger in the future,” Hernandez said.
Beyond the opportunity to provide fresh produce, the Macoskey Center was an ideal location because it’s a low foot-traffic area and provides secrecy, although SGA has yet to advertise the hours of the pantry.
“This is not a high foot-track area and our advertisement hasn’t gone out yet, so even though students might know about it, they don’t know the hours of it,” Hernandez said.
Bob’s Market is open for students during common hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Hernandez said that these hours will continue unless Khalil Harper, incoming vice president of student and academic affairs, and the committee decide to change the hours.
Hernandez and her committee have served students who have been referred to the food pantry through professors or care reports received by Student Support. Currently, most students are served through referrals.
“It all depends really on the student itself who’s food insecure because there’s a lot of stigma around using food pantries,” Hernandez said. “That’s why we like to offer all kinds of different methods because really there’s no one way that’s going to work for all students. One student might be perfectly comfortable coming in here, picking up food, and leaving; one student might want to get food from a professor.”
Hernandez added that Bob’s Market at maximum capacity due to donations received throughout the year.
In the future, Hernandez said that SGA will look to partner with the Macoskey Center and Slippery Rock community dinners for further collaboration.