In late January, Hobart and William Smith Colleges opened a food pantry. Pass the Plate came about when Chaplain of the Colleges Maurice Charles passed a report on food insecurity on college campuses to Jennifer Tufano in the Office of Spiritual Engagment.
"It just, was so eye opening that we could have students right here, yes attending school in this beautiful place with all the resources that there are and still have this need and it just is the case. It’s a reality."
This isn’t the typical starving college student narrative. Food insecurity is an issue across many university and college campuses. College is an experience coupled with privilege, especially at an institution like HWS, but not all students arrive on campus with money to spare. Many students attend HWS through a combination of loans and scholarships and meal plans are expensive.
"We tend to have students who purchase the very lowest meal plan absolutely possible because that is what they can afford and it makes it possible for them to come here. And it’s not nearly enough meals to get them through the semester, so we will find the highest need comes towards the end of the semester as meals run out."
When it came time to plan and design Pass the Plate, HWS didn’t have to look far. Syracuse University and the Rochester Institute of Technology have food pantries, just to name two. Pass the Plate also received support from Kim Wilson Vincent. She is an attorney who practiced in Austin when she lived there with her husband HWS President Gregory Vincent.
"In my role as attorney ad litem, you wear just many different hats, not just attorney. Sometimes you’re a counselor, sometimes you’re a social worker, sometimes you’re a caseworker, you just have to be able to navigate a whole host of things in order to help your young client. So if I knew that a child that i represented was dealing with an issue around food insecurity I really had to step out of my legal role and tap into whatever agencies were available around us to make sure they had enough to eat."
In assuming her role on campus Vincent is continuing a tradition that she has also put to use in support of Pass the Plate.
"In thinking through the student Open Houses that I would continue the tradition started by Mary Gearan, we were looking for ways to bring students into the house for the open houses but also I was very interested in ways that we could not just get together and have a little bit of fun which is important but ways that we could also engage the community. So, in planning the open house we discussed various things going on around campus and it was the first time I heard that HWS had a food pantry or also a need for a food pantry, more importantly."
Jennifer Tufano says that kind of peer support has been essential in making Pass the Plate a reality.
"The food drives have just been phenomenal. I just really have to thank Mrs. Vincent for all the work she has done, getting students involved, decorating boxes, as well as the Open Houses that she has had and the Christmas party that she held-- the Holiday party where she invited everyone to bring items."
Pass the Plate is located in Demarest Hall, below St. John’s Chapel.