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Three bountiful years of UD food pantry

Photos by iStock and courtesy of Shannon Murray and Casey Impagliazzo

Colleen Murray, Class of 2019, reminisces on the creation of Blue Hen Bounty

As the University of Delaware’s newest Blue Hens prepare to arrive, some will consult suggested college packing lists and worry. They will look up tips for making their soap last as long as possible, and wonder what will happen when it finally runs out. Nutritional density will reign supreme as they scour labels for shelf stable foods to rely upon. Some will look forward to a campus meal plan, but with an anxious eye on the dining halls’ closing times.

These struggles are not unique to UD students, but they are real for UD students. The latest #RealCollege survey results are in, and across 123 institutions of higher education throughout the United States including UD, 45% of respondents reported food insecurity while an even higher number reported being housing insecure. These terms describe challenges related to affording and maintaining access to nutritious foods and housing accommodations. 

The 2019 report on these national results makes clear that underrepresented and nontraditional students are both at higher risk for these challenges. It states: “Rates of basic needs insecurity are higher for marginalized students, including African Americans, students identifying as LGBTQ, and students who are independent from their parents or guardians for financial aid purposes. Students who have served in the military, former foster youth, and students who were formerly convicted of a crime are all at greater risk of basic needs insecurity. Working during college is not associated with a lower risk of basic needs insecurity, and neither is receiving the federal Pell Grant; the latter is in fact associated with higher rates of basic needs insecurity.”

As discussed by NBC News in The real cost of school for first-generation college students, challenges begin before students ever arrive on a college campus and can hinder their ability to complete a degree. At the University of Delaware, however, students can count on food and toiletries that are both affordable (free) and reliable thanks to the student-run Blue Hen Bounty food pantry that is now entering its fourth year of operation.

Students will recognize the home of Blue Hen Bounty as the brick church with expansive grounds that sits at the intersection of South College Avenue and Park Place. All are welcome to make an appointment or visit the pantry’s open hours during the semester and need only bring their student UD ID for verification.

Colleen Murray, class of 2019, describes the food pantry upon her arrival at UD as the brainchild of a bunch of then-seniors that she had the opportunity to help bring to fruition. Now that Murray too has graduated, she looks back fondly on Blue Hen Bounty’s early days and encourages all UD students to familiarize with the pantry — one just never knows who might be in need of basic toiletries or nutritious groceries, and given the stakes, spreading the word is crucial.

“It has been memorable working on a project of this magnitude,” she said. “Partnerships with supportive and generous faculty, staff and students have helped us pave the way for Blue Hen Bounty to take off, and I cannot wait to see what it becomes.” During Murray’s final year at UD, she estimates that the pantry assisted about 15 students a month out of the main distribution point at St. Thomas’ Parish.

Blue Hen Bounty donations are up for this coming year thanks to the pantry’s 53 I Heart UD Day supporters, who on May 15, 2019, raised $1,885 for food insecure University of Delaware students. “It was an incredible day for us and our growth,” Murray said. The pantry also recently received more than 6,000 meals from the local Food Lion. Pantry volunteers will continue working in the 2019-2020 academic year to get these supplies to any University of Delaware student in need, and endeavoring to educate the entire UD community that help is available.

The local Food Lion recently donated 6,200 meals, some of which are pictured here, to Blue Hen Bounty for any UD student in need.

About Blue Hen Bounty 

Blue Hen Bounty began in 2016 through the Episcopal Campus Ministry, a registered student organization offered through the University Student Centers. The pantry is fully stocked with canned meats, fruit and vegetables; various grains and single-serve meals; cereal, snacks and condiments; assorted beverages; and even basic hygiene products such as shampoo and toothbrushes. All UD students are welcome to visit the pantry at St. Thomas Parish, located at the intersection of Park Place and College Avenue at 276 South College Ave. Students need only bring their UD ID for verification of student status in order to pick up supplies. The pantry is typically staffed with volunteers one or two weekday afternoons, but students can set up an appointment by calling 302-368-4644 or emailing bluehenbounty@gmail.com. More information about Blue Hen Bounty can also be found on the pantry website.

About Student Life 

The Division of Student Life includes the Office of the Dean of Students, Center for Black Culture, Center for Counseling and Student Development, Fraternity and Sorority Leadership and Learning, Office of Student Conduct, Orientation and Transition Programs, Residence Life and Housing, Student Diversity and Inclusion, Student Health Services, Student Services for Athletes, Student Wellness and Health Promotion, UD Career Center, and the University Student Centers. For more information about Student Life, visit the website.

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