URI student works to get a ton of
food for adopted pantry
KINGSTON, R.I. -- February 27, 2003 -- University of Rhode Island student Megan Marshall of Tolland, Conn. wants to give a ton of food to hungry people who visit the St. Francis Food Pantry in Providence.
Marshall doesnt just want to give 2,000 pounds to the inner city pantry, located on the corner of Hospital and Elm streets. She wants to give St. Francis a ton of food each month for the rest of the year. To accomplish that, Marshall is putting the pantry up for adoption.
"I see food coming in the pantry during the holidays, but in order to feed people you have to keep the pantry stocked year round," says Marshall who minors in hunger studies, an interdisciplinary program that requires hands-on learning. Marshall has been interning at the pantry since September.
"This project should keep the shelves stocked and help diversify the resources for this pantry which is pretty strapped," said Kathleen Gorman, director of the URI Feinstein Center for a Hunger Free America.
Marshall is asking organizations, houses of worship, sports teams, businesses, or any other group to adopt St. Francis for one month. "This way, the pantry can always depend on incoming food because donors have a commitment to giving," the URI student said. "Giving a can or two helps, but pantries need more to survive."
The URI Catholic Center adopted the pantry for February. Marshall, a Newman Club member, is asking other members of the Catholic youth organization to gather jars of peanut butter, tuna, cans of meat, vegetables, juice and fruit, pasta and sauce, cereal, granola bars, soups, rice, and instant potatoes. St. Kevins youth group in Warwick is signed up for March.
When Marshall graduates in May, she will be the first student to graduate with a hunger minor (she majors in psychology and also minors in leadership studies.) "More people talk to me about my minors than my major," the 22-year-old said with a laugh. "But it all comes together because all three are interrelated."
"Ive always been interested in social justice. Hunger studies was a brand new minor when I enrolled at URI," she recalled. "I thought it would be a good way to be involved with my faith and help out."
As a freshman, Marshall participated in an Intervarsity Mission Project and spent two weeks that summer working with children in Guatemala. "I got my first taste of poverty in the Third World sense of the word there," said Marshall who returned to Guatemala for five weeks the following year.
The URI student spent last summer in Belize with the Sisters of Mercy working first as a councilor at a home for abused and neglected children and then at a Catholic school teaching 11- and 12-year-olds introductory English grammar.
Marshalls not sure what she will do after she graduates, but shes confident it will focus on helping others in Central America.
In the meantime, shes getting some practical experience close to home. Marshall has a packet of information for any group that wants to donate food to the pantry. The packet includes an introductory letter, hunger facts, and the "how tos" on organizing a food drive, developed by students at URIs hunger center.
Wanting to show donors how their contributions are helping the pantry community, Marshall will take photographs to show how the pantry looks. "It just personalizes the giving," she said.
"One of the best dividends of this kind of experiential learning is not only do students like Megan become engaged and empowered, but everyone involved can use this experience as a giving and learning opportunity," said Gorman. "Youth groups, church committees, parishioners, and others acquire new knowledge about the problem of hunger, and gain some direct understanding about those living in communities of Rhode Island who may be struggling."
Any group interested in collecting a ton of food should call the hunger center at 277-5427 or email Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit the hunger centers website at www.uri.edu/endhunger.