Annual Report of the Committee on Food Insecurity

To: Steering Committee, Academic Senate

From: Chair, Committee on Food Insecurity

Date: September 29 2021



Membership/officers

Alves, Kathleen, Dr. (English)

Brodbar, Dorith, Dr. (Counseling)

Cornick, Jonathan, Dr. (Mathematics and Computer Science; Chair, 2020-2021)

DiGeorgio, Elizabeth, Professor (Art and Design)

Klepper, Ashlie, Professor (Speech and Theatre; Secretary, 2020-2021)

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

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

Shin, Jun, Dr. (Chemistry)

Traver, Amy, Dr. (Social Sciences)

 

 


Liaisons

Khan, Asia, Ms. (Queensborough Student Association Representative)

Tai, Emily, Dr. (History; Steering Committee Designee)

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

Hartigan, Ellen, Dr. Interim Vice President of Student Affairs and Presidential Designee

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 twice virtually during the fall, 2020 semester, on Wednesday, September 23, 2020 and Wednesday, November 18, 2020. The Committee then met three times virtually during the Fall, 2021 semester on Wednesday, February 17, 2021, Wednesday, April 21, 2021 and Wednesday, May 20, 2021.


Narrative summary of committee work

COMMITTEE ACTIVITIES

  • Administration of Pantry Hours, 2020-2021 academic year:
  • Pantry hours and access were restricted during the year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In the Fall semester, it opened on Friday by appointment (though we stopped using the actual word in case it was intimidating) with several volunteers from the committee coming to campus to distribute food to students. In the Spring semester hours were expanded to include Monday hours, and the committee would like to thank the following non-committee faculty volunteers for enabling us to do this: Dr. Patrick Byers (Social Sciences), Dr. George Fragopoulos (English), Dr. Yusuf Gurtas (Mathematics and Computer Science), Dr. Susan Jacobowitz (English).

    • Early in the Fall 2020 semester, the pantry moved to the Administration Building, and the committee would like to thank President Christine Mangino for this more centrally located space. Committee members assisted in this move and the pantry was officially opened by Chancellor Matos-Rodriguez on 11/20/2021
    • Pantry visits were fewer than previous years due to limited campus access and the reluctance of many students to travel to the campus at the height of the pandemic. Nevertheless, we served a few hundred students over the year, including students from other CUNY colleges. Students from across the university were able to utilize any CUNY food pantry due to the pandemic, so many chose the campus most local to their homes while taking classes remotely.
    • Outside of pantry hours, students could pick up pre-packed bags of food from campus security.
    • Feminine hygiene products and bags were donated to the pantry by monetary contributions from committee members, and purchased by Dr. Amy Traver.
    • The college hosted several successful food events during the year where students could pick up pre-packed bags in front of the Administration building. These were led by Ms. Ronni Weprin from the Office of Institutional Advancement, and volunteers included President Mangino, other administrators, faculty and staff, and members of the SGA. Food bags were distributed to approximately 650 students in total during these events. 
    • Thank you to Marissa Romano & Adrianna Inghilleri contributed approximately $1500.00 on non-perishables for the November 2020 food distribution. They attended the March 2021 food distribution.
    • Ronni Weprin secured $5000 worth of non-perishable items from Associated Supermarket group for the events.
    • Students who needed more help than the pantry could provide were referred to the Advocacy Resource Center (formerly Single Stop) directed by Ms. Amawati Gonesh. Amawati and Ronni coordinated gift cards for students to use during the pandemic.

     

    As the minutes of various meetings over the course of the year will show, the Committee organized activities and discussed a spectrum of current and anticipated challenges during a difficult year.

    • Vice President of Student Affairs Brian Kerr left the college in the Spring semester to take up a new position at John Jay College. Brian was one of the driving forces behind the success of the pantry and many related initiatives from the start. He was invaluable as the administration liaison, and we wish him well. 
    • Interim VP Ellen Hartigan contributed some interesting ideas and suggestions during her brief tenure as administration liaison to  the committee. She proposed that the CUNY student corps might be able to work summer hours in the pantry. While this didn’t happen, the committee will continue to investigate possibilities for student volunteering.
    • In the Fall semester, VP Brian Kerr and committee chair Dr. Jonathan Cornick successfully applied for QCC to participate in a Hope Center for College, Community and Justice survey project about food and housing insecurity of students during the pandemic. The college report is available from the committee but in short, it painted a concerning and depressing picture about the extent of these problems. (See committee documents) It is clear that many more students are affected than those who seek help from our services, and finding ways to reach more students is a future goal of the committee.
    • Members of the committee subsequently attended Hope Center webinars and this series continues in the 2021-22 academic year.
    • SGA President Asia Khan was the student liaison to the committee until she graduated. It was important to hear the student perspective about the pantry, in particular about possible stigma, (unfounded) fears about data collection and privacy, and that the use of language such as ‘appointments’ could be intimidating. The committee strongly suggests active student liaison participation in the future if possible, as well as continuing communication with the senate student activities committee.
    • Occasionally non-student members of the public visit the pantry. While we would like to serve the community, our ongoing funding and reporting requires that we should be serving CUNY students. Fliers were created in multiple languages directing members of the public to other local resources.
    • It would be useful for the food pantry to have a computer to keep track of pantry visits using Dr. Shin’s spreadsheet program.
    • The committee offers sincere thanks to departing members Dr. Amy Traver, Dr. Jun Shin and Dr. Dorith Brodbar for their extensive and amazing work on the committee and with the food pantry.


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.

 

See Narrative

 

 


Committee Responses towards Steering Committee Charges

See Narrative 

 


Recommendations for Next Academic Year



  • To the exent that the current model of a faculty/administrative partnership may continue, it is 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
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • Continue to support and promote campus sponsored food drives
  • Continue to work closely with the Advocacy Resource Center (ARC) to provide assistance for students who need more help than the food pantry alone can provide.


New Committee Members – newly elected Chair and Secretary

Alves, Kathleen, Dr. (English)

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

Cupelli, Lorraine, Professor (Nursing)

DiGiorgio, Elizabeth, Professor (Art and Design)

Gmuca, Angela, Ms. (Faculty and Staff; Secretary)

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

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

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

Tai, Emily, Dr. (History)

 


Acknowledgments


Respectfully Submitted,
Jonathan Cornick, Outgoing Chair

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