The Student Support Foundation, a Rollins student-run organization, is working on the creation of a new food pantry at Rollins to help students in need.
The Student Support Foundation assists students with financial needs by providing emergency funding for living or academic expenses.
“The main idea of the food pantry is to address some of the need we see on Rollins’ campus, especially for food-related costs,” said Josephine Spiegelberg (‘20), president of the Foundation. “Its purpose is to be a resource for students. If they need help, faculty and staff can point them in the right direction.”
Rollins has never hosted a food pantry before, making the project a new niche within the Foundation’s role on campus. Spiegelberg said that other colleges also have similar programs that provide for students in need of food.
“Unfortunately, as the cost of living continues to rise, and [as] the wage gap increases, we are seeing a rise in need,” said Sofia Macias, office and community coordinator for the Center for Leadership & Community Engagement.
The Foundation’s main role has been providing emergency funding of up to $200 for students in need for the past eight years. Students can apply for the funds once per semester and use the money for anything they need—whether it be for rent, food, gas, textbook fees, or other academic costs.
The money can also facilitate emergency needs such as a car accident or emergency family situation. “It’s meant to be a one-time thing, and we tend not to fund the same thing twice for one person. However, if two different emergencies happen at different points in time, you can still apply for aid, which is why we allow one application per semester,” said Spiegelberg.
Spiegelberg claimed that supplies are limited, and the Foundation is still trying to figure out how to ensure that the program stays fair and legitimate based on student applications and recommendations.
It is funded by a $4,000 yearly grant from the Morgridge Family Foundation, which is a private endowment that invests to transform communities through non-profit partners. It collaborates with Student Support Foundation groups across the nation.
“We have maxed out the grant every year for the past eight years we’ve had the funding,” said Macias. “Support takes a variety of different forms and we are always looking for new ways to serve our student community.”
The Foundation has received subsidiary funds from the Center for Leadership & Community Engagement, Center for Inclusion & Campus Involvement, Fraternity & Sorority Life, and the Student Government Association.
While it has been on campus for years, it has not been well advertised, said Spiegelberg. However, the executive board of students has been more visible and accessible this year by increasing email communication in order to let faculty, staff, and student networks know about the program.
“We’re still very much figuring it all out,” said Spiegelberg. “There are a lot of logistical problems. We’re still figuring out how to keep the system anonymous so people can take advantage of these resources without any worry, and we’re figuring out where to get the food that will be in the pantry.”
According to Spiegelberg, the Foundation has spoken to the Sustainability Program about possibly using food from the campus’ urban farm for the pantry, but that discussion “hasn’t really gone anywhere.”
However, Ann Francis, program coordinator of the Department of Environmental Studies and the Sustainability Program, confirmed the arrangement. “When we have produce that we can harvest, we will help supply fresh veggies for students,” Francis said.
Macias said that the requests the Foundation receives fall into a few different categories. Most of these funds go toward costs due to personal (gas, food, emergency travel), academic (books, conference fees, class fees), and community-based needs (projects that benefit the community outside of Rollins).
Anyone interested in donating non-perishable food and unopened toiletry items that will go towards supporting students in need can drop them off at the Center for Leadership & Community Engagement located at 203 E. Lyman Ave.
Students who are experiencing need and are looking for support can email firstname.lastname@example.org or Sofia Macias at email@example.com. In addition, students are encouraged to stay connected with the Student Support Foundation’s Instagram by following @rc.ssf and @rollins_clce.