Annual Report of the Committee on Food Insecurity

To: Steering Committee, Academic Senate

From: Chair, Committee on Food Insecurity

Date: June 23 2020



Membership/officers

Alves, Kathleen, Dr. (English; Secretary, 2019-2020)

Brodbar, Dorith, Dr. (Counseling)

Klepper, Ashlie, Professor (Speech and Theatre)

Roblodowski, Christopher, Dr. (Biological and Geological Sciences)

Shin, Jun, Dr. (Chemistry)

Tai, Emily, Dr. (History; Chair, 2019-2020)

Traver, Amy, Dr. (Social Sciences)

 

 


Liaisons

Apostolo, Jacquelyn, Ms. (Queensborough Student Association Representative)

Cornick, Jonathan, Dr. (Mathematics and Computer Science; Steering Committee Designee)

Gonesh, Amawati, Ms., Director of Queensborough’s Single Stop Office;

Kerr, Brian, Dr. Vice President of Student Affairs and Presidential Designee

Weprin, Ronni, Ms. (Assistant to the Vice-President as Presidential Designee)


Committee Meeting Dates

The Committee on Food Insecurity met four times during the fall, 2019 semester Wednesday, August 28, 2019; Monday, September 23, 2019; Monday, October 28, 2019; Monday, December 16, 2019. The Committee then met twice in person during the Spring, 2020 semester: Monday, February 3, 2020 and Monday, March 9, 2020, The Committee convened a virtual meeting on Wednesday, May 6 at 5 P.M. While the Committee has not established a preferred time, to date, most meetings were held on Monday afternoons during the 2019-2020 academic year.


Narrative summary of committee work

COMMITTEE ACTIVITIES

  • Administration of Pantry Hours, 2019-2020 Semester:

The Following Hours were established for the Queensborough Pantry during the Academic Year, 2019-2020

FALL:

MONDAY, 10-11 AM; 12.45-1.45 PM; 5-6 PM

TUESDAY, 1-2 PM

WEDNESDAY, 11-Noon; 2-3 PM

THURSDAY, 2.30-3.30; 3.30-4.30; 5-6 PM

SPRING:

MONDAY, 2.30-3.30 P.M.

TUESDAY, 11 AM-Noon

WEDNESDAY, 11 AM-Noon; 5-6 PM

THURSDAY, 10-11 AM; 3-4 PM

FRIDAY, 10-11AM; 1-2 PM

Appointments were also scheduled at other times by emailing Emily S. Tai, Chair, Committee on Food Insecurity, etai@qcc.cuny.edu, who, in instances of necessity, referred students to Single Stop

  • The Queensborough Food Pantry supported over 700 student visits during the fall, 2019 semester, and had served at least 200 students since January, 2020. The Committee would particularly like to acknowledge Dr. Jun Shin, who created an Excel “Guest Book” that records/tabulates the number of student visitors and allows faculty and Single Stop staff opening the pantry to communicate with one another concerning other pantry stocking issues. This program also enabled the Committee to meet the Administration’s recommendation that the Committee support Queensborough’s accountability to grant agencies by maintaining records of pantry use.

As the minutes of various meetings over the course of the year will show, the Committee discussed a spectrum of current and anticipated challenges:

  • As of this writing the Committee continues to be grateful to be supported by a strong partnership with the office of the Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Brian Kerr, who administers grants from the Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation for Food Pantry supplies, with the assistance of Ms. Ronnie Weprin, of Queensborough’s Office of Institutional Advancement.  Vice-President Kerr has done an enormous amount to support food-insecure students at Queensborough, and serves as the Committee’s administrative liaison. As of this writing, a Petrie Foundation Grant will continue to support the pantry for the 2020-2021 Academic year. We would also like to thank Vice-President of Institutional Advancement Rosemary Zins, who, together with Ms. Ronnie Weprin and her assistant, Ms. Emily El-Halouani; and Ms. Saji Sheerazi, have all been generous with their time in soliciting and maintaining funding for the Food Pantry from various granting agencies and the Queensborough Community College Fund; and Ms. Amawati Gonesh, Director of Queensborough’s Single Stop office, who has also been attending Committee meetings; assisting students with Food Pantry access; and helping to identify students eligible for Food Insecurity funds allocated by the New York City Council in fall, 2019.
  • During the fall, 2019 semester, Vice-President Kerr’s office began working with Single Stop to identify students who were eligible for assistance from the New York City Council's fund allocation for Food Insecurity.  Students were assisted with various monies, in $10.00 or greater increments, which were applied to their Tigercards to make it possible for them to purchase hot meals at Queensborough's cafeteria.  This program was expanded in the spring, 2020 semester to support food-insecure students impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic.
  • Over the course of the academic year, members of the Committee discussed the challenge of ordering, unpacking, and distributing nutritious food choices as available from various on-line vendors. We are extremely grateful to Ms. Ronnie Weprin, who did much of the online ordering. The members of the Committee would also like to recognize the efforts of Committee members who unpacked delivered food, often in concert with Committee volunteers, Dr. Vikki Terrile, and Ms. King Fung-Shelley, as well as Ms.Weprin’s assistant, Ms. Emily El-Halouani.  We also received generous help from several student members of Queensborough’s Lambda Sigm Phi Theta Kappa Chapter, and Student Government (names noted below).
  • In order to ensure continuity of access, the Committee, as per the recommendations of the previous (2018-2019) annual report, strengthened its partnership with Single Stop. Members of the Committee are extremely grateful to Ms. Amawati Gonesh, and members of her staff for their generous investment of time and trouble in assisting students who needed to access the pantry during the winter session hiatus and other holidays.
  • In response to a continuous improvement commitment to ascertaining best practices in addressing Food Insecurity issues nation-wide, Dr. Amy Traver cultivated contacts with various non-profits, including the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice at Temple University.
  • Members of the Committee met with liaisons from various additional granting non-profits, including Share Meals; the Center for an Urban Future; and the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty.
  • In February, 2020, members of the Committee met to develop an action plan for converting to sustainable bags, following Governor Cuomo’s mandate eliminating the free distribution of plastic bags in March. Members of the Committee would like to acknowledge the generosity and efforts of several donors who enabled the pantry to offer student pantry patrons sustainable bags free of charge: Ms. Ronnie Weprin; Mrs. Sandra Strauss; Dr. Margot Edlin; Dr. Mercedes Franco; and Professor Kitty Bateman.
  • Members of the Committee also invited Vice-President William Faulkner to speak about planned changes to Queensborough’s kitchen and cafeteria facilities for 2020-2021, although it is unclear whether these plans will be moving forward in fall, 2020, given the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Following the imposition of the Chancellor’s Pause in order to move to online learning, the last formal Queensborough Pantry Hours were offered by Professor Tai and Dr. Dorith Brodbar on Thursday, March 12, 2020. Thereafter, the Queensborough Food Pantry began serving students by appointment, with the assistance of members of the Committee and Pantry volunteers who were still on campus (Dr. Brodbar, Dr. Terrile, and Ms. Fung-Shelly) with the assistance of the office of Vice-President Kerr, and the office of Single Stop, under the director of Ms. Amawati Gonesh. After these Committee members were also compelled to leave campus by New York State requirements, the pantry became available by appointment with Queensborough’s Office of Public Safety, publicsafety@qcc.cuny.edu or telephone: 718.631.6320, which remains the situation as of this writing. The members of the Committee on Food Insecurity would like to thank Mr. John Triolo, Director of Public Safety, and the members of his staff, for their assistance, and Mr. David Moretti, Academic Senate Technology Officer, for disseminating this information via the college website. In May, 2020, Vice-President Kerr also came to campus on a few occasions to unpack new food orders.
  • Between March-April, 2020, members of the Committee on Food Insecurity were in regular email contact, building a list of resources that could be shared with students.  The chair would like to recognize Drs. Jonathan Cornick and Amy Traver, who played a critical role in this initiative.  The list was distributed to students throughout the college over spring, 2020, and disseminated in a Committee report to the Academic Senate of April, 2020.


Assigned Committee work as per Bylaws Charge/Strategic Plan/Middle States Items/ or Actions of the Academic Senate

1.      With the Food Pantry becoming a part of Queensborough Community College and receiving grant funding and donations from the QCC fund, the pantry is no longer independent of the college. Members of the Food Insecurity Committee will work with administration in an advisory capacity on policy making issues and in the running of the food pantry. This change to the bylaws seeks to reflect this reality, and establish the advisory nature of the academic senate committee. Reducing the size of the Committee on Food Insecurity to nine (9) members (seven (7) faculty members, one (1) HEA/HEO and one (1) student) will better reflect the scope of the Committee's work and will alleviate scheduling challenges. The addition of a HEA/HEO representative to the Committee acknowledges HEA/HEO participation in the Food Pantry and incorporates their additional input. The committee remains willing to continue volunteering to keep the food pantry open in partnership with the administration.

 

  • The QCC Food Pantry should be run by the Single Stop office as is consistent with most other CUNY campuses maintaining such services. As such the Single Stop office would be responsible for maintaining pantry access, ordering, unpacking and stocking, etc. In line with its Bylaws charge, the Food Insecurity Committee should serve in an advisory capacity.
  • Mindful of current budgetary constraints, the Single Stop staff should be able to avail itself of voluntary contributions from all constituencies of the College. Volunteers would offer their time as a purely personal choice in a manner that would in no way interfere with their official duties at the College.
  • Student groups, on a voluntary basis and appropriately supervised by their faculty advisors, should be more fully incorporated into operation of the food pantry.
  • Both faculty and students should receive the approval of the President to cite volunteer efforts on behalf of the food pantry as “College service” on appropriate documents. 
  • The precise location of the pantry should take into account easy accessibility for Single Stop staff as they sometimes need to assist students with immediate (even emergency) need. Anecdotal reports from pantry volunteers indicate that students value pantry accessibility above all else and are not overly concerned about stigma or embarrassment.
  • As an aid in the future ordering of food, the QCC Food Pantry should seek the counsel of “in house” QCC faculty members with expertise in the field of nutrition.
  • Resources should be made available to offer accessibility during breaks and summers.
  • Signage, written materials, and in person counseling by pantry workers should receive increased emphasis so students can be better aware that the food pantry is for relatively short term use and Single Stop staff are available to help them navigate the process for applying for longer term federal SNAP benefits. 
  • Many students remain unaware that Queensborough Community College maintains a food pantry. New communication strategies need be developed and implemented.
  • The hours the food pantry is open to students during the Fall and Spring semesters should be significantly increased. 

 

 


Committee Responses towards Steering Committee Charges

First Charge: As per the report narrative above, progess has been made in this regard; while the Committee welcomed three faculty volunteers--Dr. Vikki Terrile (Library); Ms. King Fung-Shelley (CUNYfirst); and Dr. Howard Sporn (Mathematics and Computer Science); the Food Pantry also strengthened ties with the Single Stop Office, which provided access to the Queensborough Food Pantry during vacation periods; the Queensborough Office of Public Safety Office also provided Pantry access during the period of full campus closure due to COVID-19.  The only "deferral" might be accounted the appointment of nine members for the coming academic year, 2020-2021; the Committee will need to decide whether seven or nine members are optimal for Committee function.

Second Charge is in progress; while Single Stop has become more involved, as of March 2020, faculty were still participating in unpacking, and partially faciliatating pantry access.  Ordering, however, is now done Ms. Ronnie Weprin, in concert with the Office of the Vice-President of Student Affairs. 

Third Charge: As noted above, three Faculty Volunteers worked with the Committee during 2020-2021, while most members of the Committee provided pantry hours, and recorded the number of students seen. Students from Phi Theta Kappa and Student Government were supervised through several "unpacking" events by Professor Tai (acting as Committee Chair and PTK Advisor).  As per this report, the chair recorded both student and faculty contributions in reports to the Academic Senate, and is recommending that this continue.

Fourth Charge: The move of the Pantry from the Fourth Floor of the Library Building to the Student Union has had advantages and disadvantages relative to access; it's a larger space that accomodates more food; it's closer to the student union, and allows for greater student privacy.  It's farther from Single Stop, however, which makes the partnership with Single Stop staff a bit more challenging at the very time when they have been becoming more involved.  The new location also has slightly less reliable elevator access, which could raise ADA issues.

Fifth Charge: The Committee was grateful for the input of Dr. Lana Zinger, who made several recommendations relative to nutritional items; Dr. Amy Traver also solicited advice about healthy choices from the Hope Center at Temple University, which has been a mine of information on various topics that has really faciliated the Committee's advisory role (e-subscriptions to the Hope Center are free, and recommended for all committee members).

Sixth & Seventh Charges: Thanks to a promotional offer through New York City, SNAP Benefit flyers were provided for the Food Pantry that could be distributed to student clients at each pantry visit.  While the pantry was generally open for walk-ins about 1-2 hours each day, staff from Single Stop, the Office of the Vice-President of Student Affairs, and members of the Committee also opened the pantry by appointment.

 

 


Recommendations for Next Academic Year

  • The 2020-2021 Committee should review additional ways to ensure that the food insecurity needs of our students will be met even during conditions of campus closure or should any fiscal issues the campus may face impose limitations on support for the pantry under new administrative leadership.
  • To the exent that the current model of a faculty/administrative partnership may continue, it is also recommended that any service to the pantry---whether in the form of donated time (Pantry hours) or donations in kind (Pantry supplies) be noted either as college service or in Committee reports to the Academic Senate, out of respect to faculty and staff members who make these donations, and in the same spirit that financial contributions to the Queensborough Community Fund receive acknowledgment for tax purposes
  • A survey should be administered to students to assess student need and the effectiveness of the Food Pantry to support continuous improvement in addressing food insecurity. (Various models for such a survey were under consideration as of summer, 2020, both from other CUNY Campuses, and from the Hope Center.)
  • The Committee should explore ways to further promote the Queensborough Food Pantry and promulgate resources for food and housing-insecure students.  This might include a link on the Queensborough Blackboard website and a possible website resource page or a downloadable cellular telephone application.
  • Given that Food Insecurity is a public health issue and a domain of Social Science research that interests several members of Queensborough’s faculty, members of the Committee should continue to explore and recommend ways to promote the Food Pantry as a possible source for service-learning projects and faculty research on Food Insecurity.
  • The Committe should continue to work with Student organizations and clubs to promote Food Drives that can re-stock/unpack for the pantry, and should continue to partner with administration in exploring grant and fund-raising opportunities that might yield scaled-up pantry stocking and/or food purchase support for students off-campus. 
  • Last year, in response to a Bylaws change, supported by the previous chair, the number of faculty placed on this committee was reduced from 9 members to 7 members.  However, as per below, the Committee on Committees appointed nine members for the coming 2020-2021 academic year.  This discrepancy should be resolved by either accepting, or rejecting, the bylaws change of Spring, 2019.   


New Committee Members – newly elected Chair and Secretary

Alves, Kathleen, Dr. (English; Secretary, 2019-2020)

Brodbar, Dorith, Dr. (Counseling)

Cornick, Jonathan, Dr. (Mathematics and Computer Science; Chair)

DiGiorgio, Elizabeth, Professor (Art and Photography)

Klepper, Ashlie, Professor (Speech and Theatre; Secretary)

McClam, Nicole, Dr. (Health, Physical Education, and Dance)

Roblodowski, Christopher, Dr. (Biological and Geological Sciences)

Shin, Jun, Dr. (Chemistry)

Traver, Amy, Dr. (Social Sciences)


Acknowledgments

Food Drive/Food Insecurity Campus Events and Additional Acknowledgments:

  • Between October 23 and November 13, 2019, the Food Pantry was supported by a series of Sports Tournaments dedicated to “Fight Campus Hunger.” The members of the Food Insecurity Committee would particularly like to thank Interim President Timothy Lynch, who participated in the Basketball Tournament.
  • The Committee on Food Insecurity would also like to thank Dr. Lana Zinger, who hosted a screening of the film Forks Over Knives, co-sponsored by the Committee on Food Insecurity of the Academic Senate, the Lambda Sigma Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, and the Health Club on Monday, November 11, 2019.
  • The Committee on Food Insecurity would also like to thank Dr. Melida Sanchez and members of the faculty of the Department of Foreign Languages for their generous donation of canned and packaged food received shortly before the Thanksgiving holiday.      
  • The Committee on Food Insecurity would also like to thank Ms. Claire Lynch and members of Queensborough’s NYPIRG Chapter, who also contributed a generous donation of canned and packaged food in November, 2019.
  • The Committee on Food Insecurity would also like to thank Father Edward Doran of the Newman Center for hosting a “Fruit and Study Gathering” for students which was sponsored, at the Newman Center, by the Committee on Food Insecurity and Queensborough’s Lambda Sigma Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa on Wednesday December 4, 2019, during which several students enjoyed fresh fruit while studying for final exams at the Newman Center. The committee would also like to thank Dr. Bianca Sosnovski, of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science and Queensborough’s SACNAS Chapter, for her donation of fresh fruit for this event.
  • The Committee on Food Insecurity would also like to thank the multiple donors, many of them anonymous members of Queensborough’s administration, faculty, and staff, who contributed approximately 20 bags of canned and packaged food to the Queensborough Food Pantry during this December’s holiday luncheon on Thursday, December 19, 2019. We are extremely grateful to everyone for their generosity and kindness.
  • The Committee would like to thank Dr. Susan Jacobowitz (Department of English), former member of the Committee on Food Insecurity, who authored a presentation about the Queensborough Food Pantry which was presented at the 2020 Annual meeting of the Modern Language Association in Seattle this January by Dr. Aliza Atik.
  • Although the “Spring Ahead” Food Drive for the Queensborough Food Pantry, and the Spring “Fruit and Study Event” were also cancelled due to the COVID-19 Campus Closing, the Committee would like to close by thanking all the anonymous donors to the Pantry Food Drive, and to thank the following members of the Campus Community who contributed to the Drive: President Timothy Lynch; Vice-President of Student Affairs, Dr. Brian Kerr; Vice-President of Institutional Advancement, Ms. Rosemary Zins;Vice-President Stephen Di Dio; Ms. Ronnie Weprin; Ms. Emily Al-Halouni; Mr. Anthony Gamino;Mr. Reynald Pierre-Charles; Mr. David Moretti; Chair Nidhi Gadura and the faculty and staff of  Department of Biology and Geological Sciences; Chair Mercedes Franco and the faculty and staff of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science; Chair Andrea Salis, Dr. Lana Zinger, Professor Joy Condello, and the members of the faculty of the Department of Health, Physical Education and Dance; Ms. Amawati Gonesh and the staff of Single Stop; Ms. King Fung-Shelley and the faculty and staff of CUNYStart; Ms. Gisela Rivera; Mr. Raymond Volel; Ms. Debra Rosenwasser; Dr. Paris Svoronos and the members of the Chemistry Club; Father Edward Doran and the members of the Newman Club; Dr. Jun Shin and the Members of Korean Student Association; Dr. Tawde Mangala and the members of the Environmental Sustainability Club; Dr. Anissa Moody and the members of the Psychology Club; Ms. Camille McMenamin and Ms. Isabel Hocevar, and the members of the Student Health Club; Ms. Sandra Strauss and staff in the Career Services Office; Dr. Trikartikaningsih Byas and the members of the Muslim Student Association; Director Jeannie Galvin and the Faculty of Schmeller Library; Dr. Margot Edlin and the members of the Faculty Executive Committee; Dr. Ktty Bateman; and Ms. Claire Lynch, Director, Queensborough NYPRIG.
  • Finally, the Committee on Food Insecurity would like to thank the following students, members of the Lambda Sigma Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa and officers of the Queensborough Student Association for assisting with several “unpacking” events at which received food was unpacked and shelved at the Queensborough Food Pantry: Ms. Jacquelin Apostolo (Vice-President of Part-Time Students, Queensborough Student Association); Ms. Bilung Chen (Lambda Sigma President. Phi Theta Kappa); Ms. Sophia How (Lambda Sigma Vice-President, Phi Theta Kappa); Ms. YingYing Zhang (Lambda Sigma Senator, Phi Theta Kappa; Ms. Julia Lew; Ms. Pamela Joy Tabaquin; Ms. Alexandra Kavalos; Ms. Vayola Florus (Lambda Sigma Vice-President, Fall, 2019); Mr. Raymond Chan; Ms. Hannah R. Touissant; Ms. Ammary Viera; and Mr. Andrew Mueller.


Respectfully Submitted,
Emily S. Tai, Outgoing Chair

Campus Cultural Centers

Kupferberg Holocaust Center exterior lit up at nightOpens in a new window
Kupferberg Holocaust Center Opens in a new window

The KHC uses the lessons of the Holocaust to educate current and future generations about the ramifications of unbridled prejudice, racism and stereotyping.

Russian Ballet performing at the Queensborough Performing Arts CenterOpens in a new window
QPAC: Performing Arts CenterOpens in a new window

QPAC is an invaluable entertainment company in this region with a growing national reputation. The arts at QPAC continues to play a vital role in transforming lives and building stronger communities.

Queensborough Art Gallery exterior in the afternoonOpens in a new window
QCC Art GalleryOpens in a new window

The QCC Art Gallery of the City University of New York is a vital educational and cultural resource for Queensborough Community College, the Borough of Queens and the surrounding communities.