By Branden LaCroix
Metal shelves line the concrete walls of the Rams Resource Center, stocked full of the necessities that make life on campus easier.
Canned soup, peanut butter, granola bars, dry pasta, soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, shaving cream, razors, and much more are all free for FSU students who need them.
The Rams Resource Center (RRC), FSU’s “food pantry,” opened Sept. 24, 2018. It supplies students in need with non-perishable foods and toiletries.
Last year, the RRC was closed to walk-in visits due to the COVID-19 pandemic and students could only access it by scheduling an appointment with the Dean of Students Ofice.
This semester, with more students on campus and in-person classes having resumed, the RRC has reopened to its regular walk-in hours with student sta0 and volunteers recruited at the Student Engagement Day Sept. 29.
Daleri Garcia, a freshman criminology major, works at the RRC as a work-study student. She said, “I was raised not to be embarrassed about getting help.”
Krystalee Fernandez, a freshman food and nutrition major, is a student volunteer and said she
volunteers to “be able to help people.”
Meg Nowak Borrego, dean of students, and Robin Kurkomelis, assistant to the Dean of Students Office, are overseeing the operation of the RRC this semester.
Kay Kastner, coordinator of student support initiatives, previously oversaw the RRC, but is currently on a leave of absence.
With fewer students on campus last year, there was far less use of the RRC.
Nowak Borrego said the RRC is a “center of convenience” for students, and added that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, “With students not physically living on campus, it was more convenient for them to go to pantries closer to their homes.”
She said, “I anticipate we will be on par with where we were previously,” but added student needs may increase later in the academic year. “We’ll be ready if it does.”
She said the Dean of Students Office is “continuing to upgrade” the RRC “and listen to what our population is looking for.
“Initially, when we opened [the Center] three years ago, it was very much food, and it was traditional, all-American food.”
Nowak Borrego said her office is working to add more ethnic foods to the RRC to better reflect the University’s diverse student body. “We’re trying to get a better idea of what those students would like to see ... to have more food that’s like home.”
The Dean of Students Office recently partnered with Stop & Shop, which has provided funds for the RRC to purchase groceries and other essentials at its stores.
Stop & Shop also gave a $100,000 grant to FSU to create the “Stop & Shop Scholarship for Diversity in the Field of Food & Nutrition.”
Nowak Borrego said Stop & Shop representatives who visited the University suggested an “Instacart idea” that would allow students to have fresh foods delivered.
She added this semester, the RRC increased its stock of school supplies, baby formula, diapers, and self-care products.
The RRC also receives donations from the nonprofit organizations Dignity Matters and Circle of Hope.
Dignity Matters is a nonprofit that “collects, purchases and supplies feminine hygiene products, bras and underwear to women and girls who are homeless or disadvantaged,” according to the organization’s website.
Circle of Hope, a non-profit organization based in Needham, provides clothing and essential items to the homeless in the Boston and MetroWest areas.
The RRC donation boxes located around campus that were removed during the COVID-19 pandemic have been returned.
The donation boxes are located in the Game Room, the Snack Bar, and the Dean of Students Office in the McCarthy Center, as well as the Veterans Services Center and the OWce of Enrollment and Student Development – both located in Dwight Hall – and the Alumni House.
Outside of donations, students with unused meal swipes on their meal plan can donate their extra swipes to the Emergency Meal Bank through the Dean of Students’ Housing and Food Assistance web page. Students who need them can request to have the extra swipes added to their cards.
Currently, there is no way to make monetary donations to the RRC electronically.
Aside from volunteering and donating, Nowak Borrego said students and student organizations can help by “promoting” and “raising awareness of” the RRC.
Garcia said, “Food insecurity is a real thing” on college campuses, adding, “Just letting people know [the RRC] is here is helpful.”
Although she has not used the RRC, Fernandez recognizes that “as the semester goes on, I might need something.”
She added letting students know about the RRC is helpful “if they need a back-up plan.”
Kaylie Valente, a freshman English major, said she has never encountered any problems with getting help from the RRC and recognizes its importance.
“I don’t think I’ve seen anything like this before, and I think it’s very helpful,” she said.
Chelesae Simpson, a sophomore biology major, said, “I think people look down on others who try to receive help. But sometimes, you just need help.
“College isn’t cheap,” she added.
Simpson said one way students can help is to advocate for others who may be anxious about seeking help and “[encourage] your peers to go use the resources that are there for them.”
The RRC is open Monday and Wednesday from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.