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Having H.O.P.E: An inside look at the NCC food pantry

The H.O.P.E. Pantry is an on-campus, Nursing Student Organization, put together by Northampton Community College that’s available all year round. The organization stands for Helping Our Peers Excel, and was created in 2016.

By helping out NCC students and donating healthy, fresh foods for anyone in need, they continue to keep the hope in school. The pantry is held together by nursing student majors who carry out different roles.

The H.O.P.E Pantry is located on the main Northampton campus in Penn Hall, Room 122A, and is open twice a week, Mondays, from 12:00 – 3:00 p.m., and Thursdays, from 11:00 – 1:00 p.m. Everyone is welcome, all that’s needed is a student ID.

They are partnered with Second Harvest, which is a community food pantry in Bethlehem, and Shop Rite, who helps with the pantry’s stock every few weeks by donating food. Most of the foods one can find in the pantry are canned goods – lots of beans, vegetables, and soups. But there are also toiletries, meat, dairy, bread, snacks, and baby supplies. Whatever students get from the pantry can be for family, not just the individual. But even though they’re regularly stacked and have a lot of products, they do have to have a limit on some goods based on the availability of those products, like toiletries.

 For a new comer, the pantry can be easily missed if it’s closed because the entrance is equivalent to most classroom doors, and in an interview with Tammy Haight, who’s been at NCC since 2013 and is one of two Food Pantry Coordinators in the organization, alongside Robin Hampton, she said that the discretion of the pantry helps to maintain its privacy. Their Privacy Policy is one of the things they take very seriously. They make sure the student isn’t broadcasted for being in the pantry and doesn’t mention it at all whenever they’re seen. They’re very respectful of how the students feel and will even work out a time for someone to have a private session where they can shop in the pantry alone and freely without shame.

  The coordinators also speak to the students and get involved. They ask the students what they would or wouldn’t like to see in the pantry so they can have a better experience and have things that they would want or need.

 Over the years, the pantry has changed in its availability, from once a month, then twice, to now, which is twice a week, as a way of helping and giving back more to the NCC family. Haight disclosed that the reason for this was because “It was often open in the past, twice a month, so we took it up to the next level and we said… it wasn’t enough. Twice a month is not enough for someone who is looking for their next meal – someone who is looking to excel in college and can’t cause their nutritional needs are down. So, we decided we need to open this pantry, more hours and more consistent.”

The food pantry is ran by student volunteers.

 The organization is purely voluntary and is also looking for volunteers. They have a sign-up sheet on the door of the pantry for that reason, you can go on Blackboard under the Nursing Student Organization and find their contact information or check out the bulletin boards in the Penn Hall for information on how to become a volunteer. Or students can donate. There are shopping carts on some areas of campus that are dedicated to donating food to the pantry. There’s one located in College Center, Laub Lounge.

 The HOPE Pantry ends in May, mostly because that’s when the spring semester ends, but it will still be there even after that. Students are encouraged to volunteer, but mostly, check out the pantry if they’re having any trouble with getting the nutrition they need. The staff is always happy to help, because that’s what the organization is about.