The Middlesex College Food Pantry, MCC Cares, is encouraging students to donate and utilize the pantry throughout the spring semester to focus on meeting the community’s basic needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amanda Lyons, basic needs coordinator at MC, said the community has been hit hard by the pandemic.
“Many families have lost work and income since the start of the pandemic,” Lyons said, “Pantry numbers increased and many students have not been able to continue with their studies. The holidays create extra expenses for families, as do winter heating costs. This is a very difficult time for people struggling financially.”
Lyons said the pantry has taken steps to continue operations during the pandemic.
According to the MCC Cares web page, the pantry now has an outdoor donation bin at the rear of the College Center, across from the Physical Education Center. There are also donation bins in the lobbies of the Gateway building and West Hall.
Lyons said that the pantry was not able to have any students on site to volunteer at this time.
“The College is making every effort to keep our community safe during the pandemic by limiting people on campus,” Lyons said, “Students can help by spreading awareness that the pantry is available to any student who could use some support with groceries."
Lyons said that the pantry needs hearty soups, both vegetarian and not, tuna, canned meat, cooking oils, rice, boxed milk and tomato sauce. There is a more comprehensive list featured on the MCC Cares web page.
According to the MCC Cares web page, the pantry also accepts monetary donations; grocery store gift cards are in especially high demand.
Lyons said she encourages students to donate but also wants to remind students that this resource is available for them.
“If you or a friend or classmate is struggling, please don’t be shy, reach out to the pantry for support. Please remind others that this resource is available,” she said.
“We are all in this together,” Lyons said, “If you and your family have been lucky enough to have not suffered financial setbacks due to the pandemic, please consider helping others who have been struggling. This has been a very difficult time for many. I want people to know that our MC community cares and is here to help. If you could use some help, don’t be shy; people want to help. A community grows stronger by caring for one another. If you have the means to help now in this way, through donations, please do.”
Ryan Donelan, a Middlesex College student, said he thought that the donation bins were a great idea.
“It could probably use more exposure,” he said.
Giselle Vidals, a Middlesex College student, said, “Food insecurity is a prevalent predicament among college students. We’re made up of individuals who come from generational poverty, homelessness, abusive families, low-income households, minorities, [and] first generation students. They may find themselves continuously skipping meals or sleeping to not feel hunger pains because they can’t afford to eat while paying for tuition, and who can focus when they’re hungry? The MCC Cares Food Pantry is there for anyone who needs it and there is no shame in needing these resources.”
“While volunteering at the pantry, I saw [that] most [people] are private about needing help,” Vidals said, “People who walked in were people I’d always see on campus and even some I knew personally. By donating, you could be donating to your own closest friends without even knowing it.”
Lyons said that the pantry is planning events for the spring semester.
“We will be working with the library on a diaper drive in March,” she said, “Many of our students are parents with young children at home. Diapers are very expensive, and we try to provide them to our parenting students as often as we can. We are always happy to receive wipes and diapers, sizes five and six are in highest demand.”