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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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Letter to the Editor: Food pantry is a necessity

(THE STATESMAN / EFAL SAYED)
Stony Brook’s new food pantry provides students in need with free meals. (THE STATESMAN / EFAL SAYED)

Last week I found myself happily grabbing for a crisp new copy of The Statesman on Monday, as I always do, to get a breath of fresh air filled with the news of what is new at the Brook. One of the first articles to catch my eye was one about the new food pantry opening up on campus, something I had overheard while working in my office in Mendelsohn Quad. I was excited to hear about when I initially absorbed the office gossip a few weeks back, so it was great being able to read an article about how students will be able to both give and receive in times of need, something I truly understand.

As I continued to read the paper, however, I found myself in the center section and my eyes fell on an opinion article about how Stony Brook does not need the food pantry and that there are more people who need it on Long Island than on this campus. The author was quick to note the hefty Big Ten price tag of Michigan State. He was understanding of why they would need help supporting students with a food pantry because the tuition burden is significantly higher than Stony Brook’s.  The author ended his article with the opinion that investment should not be made in a food pantry at the Brook, as we do not need it as much as those in need on Long Island.

Let me take a minute to breathe, and relax. Let me take a minute to think about my own financial situation here at Stony Brook.

I am a transfer, a transfer from out of state. Wait, let me get specific with you: Iowa. America’s heartland. Coming in, I was offered no money, none. And that big fat zero Stony gave me came a year after I went to the University of Iowa, a Big Ten school, just like MSU, for free because of an academic scholarship. My parents make too much money (most of which goes to paying for college for my younger sister who goes to an instate private school and my dad’s second degree from a private college) and because of their jobs, I am not eligible for TAP. My parents raised me to value the things I have in life, and to do that, they want me to pay for my own things.

I have taken out almost 100K in loans to pay for Stony over the past four years (mind you, a year was taken off so I could go on a hiatus and make some magical moments as a finance intern at Disney World). I stayed here all summer, I do not visit home more than once every year or two because flights cost $400. I cut out my meal plan and scrimped and saved all summer to shave a couple thousand off the private loan I had to take out from Wells Fargo this year. I work my butt off. I get good grades. Just kidding, I get spectacular grades and have been on the Dean’s List since I got here. I work a job in the quad office, I intern with admissions and am a TA. I do work here. I hustle. Stony Brook is my community, and I am doing all I can to give back to it. Some weeks, my friends need money for the train home, or their hours get cut and they need a little help with rent. I help my friends out when they need it, because frankly, they have become my family 1,000 miles from where I grew up. Sometimes, I am quick to say yes to them, my pantry runs short and I spend a solid week on chicken flavored Ramen and some crappy granola bars my mom mailed me this summer. But I do it, I accept it is college and I got myself into this mess. It is not a huge deal to me.  If I can help my friends, I will. Life goes on, this is just a drop in the bucket.

I understand people on Long Island go hungry. I do, I get that. What I do not get is how one can have the audacity to say that students on this campus do not need help with food every once in a while. We all have bad months, we are sick, we have to miss a day or two from work for a test or to go home for grandma’s birthday. I think this program is great. It prevents students from living off Cup’o’Noodles and $2 Union burritos at 11 p.m. solely because they had private matters they had to deal with and have no money left for food. I work hard for my friends, and my friends here work hard, and sometimes, we need help. I am 23 years old, three figures in debt and about to take the LSATs in a few weeks so I can spend another three years and almost 200K more on an education. Yes, you may say that is my choice, and I know it is.

But guess what. This food pantry thing we have here for students, it is probably the best program I have heard of starting here. It is what the people need in order to keep their bodies healthy so that their minds can follow. If you seriously think there is nobody struggling here to keep their head above water, stop for a minute and look around you. Look in the commuter lounge when you are cutting through campus late at night. There are kids that literally stay here because they can not afford the train a couple stops down to their off campus apartment. People are struggling, Seawolves are struggling, and you cutting them down, saying they are fine, that is not going to help. But starting a program like this might.

I just want to commend you, Stony Brook. Caring for our fellow men and women (and Wolfie) is what builds a community. This program is a spectacular idea. I encourage everyone: when you have a little extra, give it, and when you need a little extra, take it.

At the end of the day, we are all in this together. At the end of the day, we are all lucky enough to say, ‘I’m a Seawolf.’ And it is programs like this that really, truly, make me proud to say that.

Sincerely-

Emily Felton

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    FEDUPSep 23, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    When a package of Golden Double Stuffed Oreos,weighing less than a Pound cost $9.09 a bag on campus, there is a need for a food pantry! When the Not for Profit Faculty Student Association, who monopolizes the food services and sets the prices in their retail store, overcharge the students for profit, you can expect lines at this food pantry.

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