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'Husky Harvest' pantry aims to fight food insecurity across UConn campuses

Provided Photograph
Laura Bunyan
A food pantry that started as a class project is part of an effort to fight student food insecurity.

A food pantry that started as a class project at the University of Connecticut’s Stamford location will soon feed hundreds of food-insecure students on four different campuses. It’s part of an effort to fight student food insecurity by feeding hundreds of people every week.

“We've long known that there's food insecurity on campus, which got worse with COVID,” said Laura Bunyan, associate professor of sociology at UConn’s Stamford campus. “We didn't yet have a permanent solution to address it. So we made it the class group project to start a food pantry on campus.”

Bunyan started a pop-up food pantry with her Sociology of Food class back in March to help students on the Stamford campus, where there are high numbers of first-generation and low-income students, but no dining hall to feed them.

“We don’t have a meal plan — we just don’t have space on campus for a cafeteria — so those students are responsible for feeding themselves,” she said.

A recent UConn study found that about 45% of students experience some level of food insecurity. Students struggling with food insecurity, who are also more likely to be Black and Latino, demonstrate lower academic performance.

Although the project began as a temporary pantry, it’s become a permanent initiative, now called Husky Harvest. It’s made possible by collaborations with UConn’s administration, Connecticut Foodshare, and other nonprofits and businesses.

Bunyan’s team now plans to open pantries in the remaining regional campuses in Groton, Hartford, and Waterbury. Faculty say they have been trying to open a food pantry for the Hartford campus for six years.

The Husky Harvest pantry on the Stamford campus is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. when classes are in session.