Kristin Helling stands in front of the refrigerated section of Milligan's Food Pantry

Healthier Choices for Students with New Food Pantry Fridge


Buffalo State College students facing food insecurity now have access to fresh food choices—including yogurt, string cheese, eggs, and produce—from the campus-based Milligan’s Food Pantry.

The State University of New York (SUNY) recently provided the college with an $800 grant to purchase a refrigerator for the longtime food pantry. The college was one of 17 SUNY campuses receiving the refrigerator grants this year. As of 2018, all SUNY students have access to a food pantry on or near campus, and through the recent awards, 55 SUNY campuses are now equipped to handle fresh food along with nonperishable items.

“These grants are a result of passionate advocacy by our student leaders who called for refrigeration at campus food pantries so that all students have access to high-quality meals,” said SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras. “Hunger has no place on our campuses, and we must do everything we can to eliminate it so that students can focus on their studies. Our mission at SUNY is to support our students with sustainable food options with the hope that one day our food pantries won’t be necessary. Until that day happens, we will make our food pantries as robust as possible, and with a little bit of funding, we are able to do so.”

The refrigerator, which was delivered to Buffalo State at the end of August, is now full of nourishing foods that students can order online, along with plenty of nonperishables stocked on shelves in the adjoining room of Campbell Student Union 311—beans, tuna, peanut butter and jelly, cereal, soup, canned fruits, and boxes of pasta.

Shot of nonperishable food items in Milligan's Food Pantry

“Hunger has no place on our campuses, and we must do everything we can to eliminate it so that students can focus on their studies.”

— SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras

“Students rely on the food pantry for a variety of reasons,” said Kristen Helling, student resources coordinator for the Dean of Students Office. “The pandemic added to meal insecurity because many students lost their jobs, or their hours were cut. Some of our student clients are also parents.”

Founded in 2000 under the auspices of the Weigel Wellness Center, Milligan’s became part of the Student Life Office in 2016. During the 2019–2020 academic year, students made more than 550 visits to the pantry. They order online, and the pantry staff puts the boxes together for pickup.

Much of the inventory is provided through faculty and staff contributions to the Milligan’s Pantry Fund, part of the college’s annual Faculty and Staff Appeal.

Helling said she’s excited that they can offer students a variety of foods that they couldn’t in the past.

“It’s super beneficial to have healthier food choices for our students,” she said. “It expands meal options. For instance, it’s great to have a box of macaroni and cheese, but you still need milk and butter to make it. They also have more choices for breakfast items and healthy snacks with the fridge.”

The Dean of Students Office will send a survey to students this fall to gauge what food items they’d like to see stocked in the refrigerator, she added.

Along with an assortment of food, the pantry offers laundry detergent and toiletries, such as shampoo and feminine hygiene products, all of which, Helling said, are in high demand.

“Students can come back as many times as they need,” she said. “There is no limit.”

For more information, please call Helling at 878-4618.

Photos by Bruce Fox, campus photographer.