When it comes to the issue of hunger and food scarcity, college campuses are no exception, but the students at Stony Brook have a plan to address this by meeting the needs of both their peers and the local community in Suffolk County.
Students for Humanity and Distressed Children & Infants International (DCI) have partnered with the Faculty Student Association (FSA) to organize and host a Seawolves Food Drive. The event runs from November 8 through December 3. Students can use their Dining Dollars to purchase non-perishable items to donate to the Stony Brook University Food Pantry and Suffolk County Shelters. Donation bins can be found at the Market at West Side and East Side Dining Emporium.
Suggested donation items include protein bars, dried fruit, granola bars, seeds/trail mixes, nuts, instant oatmeal, low-sodium soups, cereal and peanut butter. Campus Dining has created prepackaged donation bundles which can be purchased for $10 at the on campus convenience stores.
“The food drive is important for students that can’t afford a meal. Almost every spring semester, the food drive has been able to fill the food pantry on campus to its full capacity. When this occurs, we take the remainder of the donations to homeless shelters and help people outside of the Stony Brook campus,” says Students for Humanity Co-President Zenat Khwaja ‘22, Health Science.
The idea for a food drive first emerged when former Students for Humanity President Umair Azhar ’19, Applied Mathematics and Statistics, was in his first semester at Stony Brook. It was the end of the semester, and Umair and his friends had some extra Dining Dollars. They went to the old Union Deli, bought 50 sandwiches, and took a train to the city, where they spent the whole day giving the sandwiches to those in need. Upon Umair’s graduation, the food drive was run by both his younger brother Haseeb Azhar and Yusra Abdurrob, former co-presidents of Students for Humanity.
The inspiration behind doing so emerges from Umair witnessing poverty first-hand in Pakistan. His younger brother, Haseeb Azhar ‘21, Civil Engineering, co-president of Students for Humanity, explains, “He saw kids begging on the street for food or money to help support their families. This inspired him to start the food drive and provide for those that are too scared to ask for help and let them know that they are not alone.”
Over the last five years, Students for Humanity has collaborated with the FSA and Campus Dining to facilitate the food drive. The FSA helps by promoting the event through digital and print media, SB Engaged, digital monitors throughout campus, University websites and social media channels.
Zenat partnered with DCI in Fall 2020. She says, “With DCI’s connections to other groups on campus, we often reach out to those groups and ask if they can promote the flyers on their social media accounts to increase donations. We are trying to get more clubs to join as this will spread awareness of the food drive and bring in additional food donations.”
About Students for Humanity
The primary aim of Students for Humanity is to be a source of food for those who are unable to afford it. The organization chooses to donate to the SBU Food Pantry so students have a reliable facility that they can trust when it comes to the provision of food.
About Distressed Children & Infants International (DCI)
DCI is an internationally recognized US-based nonprofit organization that primarily focuses on protecting children’s rights. Established at Yale University and currently headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, DCI supports child rights-oriented programs and initiatives in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Nicaragua, while also helping families that are living in poverty and face issues regarding healthcare and lack of growth and opportunity.
About the Stony Brook University Food Pantry
Located in Suite L-20 in the Stony Brook Union, the SBU Food Pantry works to serve community members (students, staff and faculty) who are food insecure, or facing the risk of food insecurity, as well as supporting the Food Pantry’s operations and education efforts. They provide members with a range of options, which include grains, snacks, canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, jelly, and tomato sauce, among others. The SBU Food Pantry is open from 10 am to 4 pm on weekdays, and is closed on weekends.