group of people with eclipse glasses

Buffalo State University and FeedMore WNY Partnership Continues to Grow


For the past several years, Buffalo State University and FeedMore Western New York have partnered in a variety of ways to improve the lives of Western New Yorkers in need. 

FeedMore WNY alleviates hunger and assists community members of all ages throughout Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, and Niagara counties. In 2023, FeedMore WNY assisted 142,454 community members and provided nearly 17 million meals throughout its four-county service area.

Carol DeNysschen, dean of the School of the Professions, is a longtime volunteer for FeedMore WNY and a former member of FeedMore WNY’s board of directors. “Dean DeNysschen has been an amazing liaison between Buffalo State University and FeedMore WNY,” said Catherine Shick, FeedMore WNY’s Public Relations Manager. “She has helped foster a lot of connections. There are many different aspects to our partnership—it’s really grown throughout the years—and we are so grateful.” 

DeNysschen said FeedMore WNY has accomplished amazing goals in addressing hunger in Western New York. 

“As a former board member, I leveraged my background in public health nutrition to join forces with FeedMore WNY in the direction of addressing food inequity,” she said. Buffalo State’s relationship with FeedMore WNY is a beautiful example of ‘Together we are better.’”

Milligan’s Food Pantry
FeedMore WNY officially partnered with Buffalo State’s Milligan’s Food Pantry, located in the Campbell Student Union, in October 2022. As part of FeedMore WNY’s network, Milligan’s is populated with a mix of shelf-stable and perishable nutritious food items delivered by FeedMore WNY. The pantry helps students and families experiencing food insecurity. In January 2024, the pantry served about 130 individuals. 

“Food insecurity is a big problem, especially for college students,” Shick said. “Buffalo State recognizes this, and we’re honored to partner in this way.”

Adopt-a-Route, FeedMore WNY’s home-delivered meals program (formerly known as Meals on Wheels), serves about 1,800 homebound seniors each day across 25 sites in Western New York, a task that would be impossible without the help of volunteers—including Buffalo State faculty and staff members. Buffalo State adopted a route in 2020; faculty and staff members deliver meals weekly to residents in Black Rock and Riverside.

“We can always count on them,” Shick said. “We know they’ll be there.”

Curricular Connections
Many Buffalo State faculty members have incorporated lessons about food insecurity and FeedMore WNY’s involvement into their curriculum. One example is Shashi M. Gayadeen, associate professor in Buffalo State’s Criminal Justice Department, who brings in FeedMore WNY representatives to speak about food insecurity in Western New York and volunteer opportunities. There is also a service component; students are required to volunteer for FeedMore WNY and write a paper on the correlation between food insecurity and social justice.

Gayadeen’s capstone project students have also worked with participants in FeedMore WNY’s RISE (Readying Individuals for Success and Employment) program, geared toward individuals who are economically disadvantaged or face other barriers to employment, such as prior justice involvement or substance abuse. 

“Dr. Gayadeen’s students have come in and taught our students how to write a résumé and prep for an interview; they taught them the kinds of things you’d need to start the job-seeking process,” said Shick, who emphasized that Gayadeen is just one of several Buffalo State faculty members who have incorporated food insecurity and FeedMore WNY into their teaching.

Buffalo State students also frequently participate in internships in FeedMore WNY’s various departments, and some former interns have been hired into staff positions. 

individuals with eclipse glasses on

Dean Carol DeNysschen and Dr. Kevin Williams flank box of eclipse glasses donated to FeedMore WNY.

Eclipse Glasses Donation
Buffalo State and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, sponsor of Buffalo State’s Eclipse Fest, donated 5,000 pairs of Highmark-branded eclipse glasses to FeedMore WNY in March for distribution through the home-delivered meals program in advance of the total solar eclipse on April 8. DeNysschen and Kevin Williams, associate professor of geosciences and director of the Buffalo State Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium, delivered the glasses to FeedMore WNY headquarters.

“Building on Buffalo State’s collaboration with FeedMore WNY’s Adopt-a-Route program, we wanted to make sure their clients could safely view the solar eclipse on April 8,” Williams said. “Thanks to support from Highmark, we are excited to be able to provide 5,000 pairs of eclipse glasses to be distributed across Erie and Niagara counties.”

Michael Ball, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield’s vice president of community affairs said excitement for the solar eclipse is building. 

“Our community especially—being in the path of totality—is eager to witness such an incredible, unique natural phenomenon, so having proper eyewear is crucial,” he said. “As a community-based health plan, Highmark is proud to support Buffalo State’s efforts to bring our community together in a safe and educational setting for this rare sighting.” 

Shick expressed her gratitude to Buffalo State and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.

“It’s wonderful to be able to offer these glasses to our home-delivered meal recipients who may have otherwise had difficulty accessing glasses and allow them to experience this event,” she said. “These eclipse glasses are another touch point to show our home-delivered meal recipients just how much the community cares.”

A Bright Future
Shick is excited for the continued growth of FeedMore WNY’s partnership with Buffalo State. “Buffalo State University is an incredible institution that is so central to our Western New York community,” she said. “To receive support through the time of volunteers, talent of faculty and staff, resources like eclipse glasses, and Dean DeNysschen serving on our board has been tremendous and helps fulfill FeedMore WNY’s mission. It’s an amazing partnership that we’re so excited to continue.”

“Buffalo State couldn’t be an effective anchor institution in this relationship of addressing food insecurity if we didn’t have such dedicated faculty, staff, and students across campus,” DeNysschen added. “I’m thankful to work at an institution that supports the community.”

Photos courtesy of FeedMore WNY.