Food pantry partners with Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank

Sao Mai Nguyen, the vice president of Migration Club, assists with stocking the third-floor McAnulty College Community Food Pantry during the week.

Megan Trotter | News Editor

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank’s Eliza Kuhn knows it’s hard for students to focus on their studies when they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

That’s why, when those running the McAnulty College Community Food Pantry applied to partner with them, the food bank agreed, making Duquesne University one of its most recent locations.

“Having a pantry on campus and sort of taking away that worry of not knowing where their next meal will come from will allow more students to focus on their studies than might have been able to before,” said Kuhn, manager of network growth and compliance at the Greater Pittsburgh Community.

The McAnulty College food pantry was created in 2023 to address food insecurity on campus as part of their mission, “to support support service organizations and migrant communities in the Greater Pittsburgh area,” according to the Center for Migration Displacement and Community Studies’ website.

In its infancy, the food pantry relied on public donations either from drop-off boxes in College Hall or through a financial donation portal, said Migration Club president Jason Minicozzi.

Executive board members of Migration Club, one of the pantry’s founding partners, would take the funds to go grocery shopping with their own cars and time, he said. They would then purchase the needed food and restock the shelves.

“It was a little bit more difficult to source and supply stable food,” Minicozzi said.

But now, the food pantry will be stocked more than ever as details of the partnership with Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank have been ironed out.

“We have it set up so that they deliver the first Thursday of every month,” Minicozzi said. “This partnership with the food bank will provide them [food pantry patrons] steady, constant and a high quantity of access to free fresh produce, dry stock goods, dairy, eggs, meat or proteins.”

As of right now the pantry will only have deliveries once a month, with the exception of summer months like June, July and August. However, if items begin to rapidly leave the shelves, McAnulty Food Pantry and Greater Pittsburgh will set up more deliveries, Minicozzi said.

The McAnulty College Community Food Pantry has joined surrounding universities, such as University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon, Carlow, Point Park and Community College of Butler County who all also have a partnership with Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Minicozzi said.

When asked about how the new partnership will specifically impact Duquesne, Minicozzi declined to comment.

In 2017, Pitt’s Office of Childhood Development partnered with Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank to conduct the Campus Cupboard Study.

“This study of hunger on campuses in Southwest Pennsylvania found that student hunger is pervasive – 29% of the 6,222 student respondents from 11 colleges or universities reported moderate or high levels of food insecurity,” according to the Campus Cupboard Study findings.

Minicozzi declined to answer when asked how many food insecure students attend Duquesne.

Feeding America conducted a survey that showed there are several factors that influence a student’s access to food.

According to a 2018 Government Accountability Office report, “most college students (71%) are ‘nontraditional,’ meaning they may possess the following characteristics: experience financial independence, are enrolled part-time, work full-time while in school, are caretakers for dependents, and/or did not receive a traditional high school diploma,” the Feeding America website said.

Kuhn said one of their goals is to make nutritious free food available to students experiencing food insecurity in a location that’s convenient for them.

The McAnulty College Community Food Pantry joins three other food pantries on campus to mitigate food insecurity. The others are located in the Rangos School of Health Sciences, the School of Nursing and the Student Union.

Almost all members of the Migration Club work at the food pantry. Recently, the McAnulty Food Pantry has had an influx of volunteers from other student organizations such as Sigma Nu fraternity and Gamma Sigma Sigma.

“So far it’s been a handful of guys helping with organization and moving food in and out of the rooms,” Sigma Nu philanthropy chair Rodrigo Corral said in a message. “Myself as well as the rest of our Greek organization are extremely excited to have entered into this partnership.”

Beyond just food items, Greater Pittsburgh will also help stock personal hygiene products such as shampoo, soap, toothbrushes and feminine products.

“This partnership will actually provide increased quantity and quality of items. So before we weren’t able to provide a steady flow of soap, I know that was an issue,” Minicozzi said.

As a part of this partnership, patrons will now use a system called Link2Feed. This login feature will require a name, birthdate, and self-identified gender while the rest of the requested information is optional with a “prefer not to say” selection.

However, users still have the option to remain anonymous. The anonymous sign in only requires the date of the visit and the number of people in their household.

“We ask all of our partners that are distributing grocery items like a food pantry to use a system called Link2Feed which is a service insights system that just tracks service visits at all of our partner locations,” Kuhn said. the idea is that we want students and just neighbors in need in general to be able to receive help when and where they need it.”

No data will be collected on what food goes in or out of the pantry. Minicozzi said the pantry is working on creating a scanning system with barcodes to correlate food items.

“We encourage that anonymous sign in option, but you will have to sign up [for the pantry] every time if you sign in anonymously,” Minicozzi said.

One of the benefits of signing up is access to use the McAnulty College Community Food Pantry as often as necessary. One other benefit to the new partnership with the food bank is that patrons who sign up will also be able to use the other 500 partner sites the Greater Pittsburgh food bank has.

Individuals who provide information also gain access to the food bank’s hotline which provides free deliveries to select populations.

Correction: A previous version of this story contained incorrect information that nearly 30% of Duquesne students experience food insecurity.