The Patriot Ledger // Published September 8, 2022 // By Mary Whitfill

QUINCY – From snack bags to dinner meals and personal hygiene items, students at Quincy College won’t go without basic necessities thanks to a newly installed food pantry in the school’s student lounge.

The pantry was officially opened at a ceremony Wednesday that included a free barbecue lunch and a farmers market  where 1,000 pounds of fresh produce was given for free to students on campus. The space is the latest supported by Quincy-based Stop & Shop’s school food pantry program, which has 140 pantries in schools across New England.

“We know that consistent access to healthy foods and personal care items is really important, and we want one less thing for students to worry about so they can focus on their studies, their families and the things that really matter most,” Jen Brogan, a spokesperson for Stop & Shop, said.

Melissa Lord, student program and wellness coach at Quincy College, said the pantry is a larger version of a shelf she put up last semester. Using about $400 in gift cards donated by Stop & Shop, she put together a shelf of snack bags with water, granola bars, fruit cups and other items that she said were very popular.

“When students are in classes, we want to make sure they’re well fed and now they don’t have to wonder about what’s for dinner, either,” she said.

Noticing more need from students as costs of gas, groceries and other items rise, she and grant writer Tracey Merrill applied to be part of  Stop & Shop’s food pantry program. The company donated $10,000, which Lord said should sustain the pantry through the end of the year.

Brogan said schools apply yearly for continued support.

“This is long term and as long as our partners want to keep it up and have the manpower and volunteers to do it, then we’d love to fund it in perpetuity,” she said.

Lord said  she wants to include more ethnic food and wants to hear from students about items they’d like to see stocked. For now, available goods include ramen noodles, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, granola bars, chips, water bottles and more. In a separate cabinet, students have access to shampoo, hair ties, tampons, toothpaste, mouthwash, hand sanitizer and other personal care items.