Lehigh Valley

ESU, local church team up to start food pantry for students

VIDEO ESU teams up with local church...

EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa. - No student should have to choose between paying for classes and paying for food, but it does happen.

For more than a year there's been a growing problem on the East Stroudsburg University campus. It's not access to knowledge, but rather some students not having the resources to survive.

"We had more students being referred to us because there were issues with food for them," said Doreen Tobin, vice president of student affairs at East Stroudsburg University.

There are more students choosing between expenses, rent, and something to eat. 

A 2016 survey conducted by the university found close to 30 percent of students were hungry or unable to meet their food needs.

"Also, I had been talking with other faculty and staff as had other colleagues and there were more anecdotal stories of people keeping food in their desk so if a hungry student came in they could give it," added Tobin.

So the university decided to partner with a local church.

"One of the corporal works of mercy is to feed the hungry,” said ESU Catholic campus minister, Joe Sudano. “So we are really overjoyed that the university wants to partner with St. Matthews and the dioceses of Scranton to meet those needs."

St. Matthew's Catholic Church currently operates a food pantry, but for two hours on Friday, the Warrior Food Pantry will only be open to ESU students.

"All the typical staples that you would need,” said Sudano. “Pasta, peanut butter, stuff that is easy to keep, easy to store, easy to prepare."

Protecting the student's identity is key for the university.  The food pantry will be open specific hours for ESU students and when they leave with their food, it will be in discreet bags.

"We didn't necessarily want it on campus,” said Tobin. “We wanted people to be able to go close by, but be protected."

Protection so students who are afraid of the stigma will get food they need.

The pantry will be open every Friday during the semester and the university has also placed donation boxes around the campus.

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