Basic Needs Hub expands programming, resources

By Gabriel Donahue, editor-in-chief

Towson University’s Basic Needs Hub has again expanded its resources and programming ahead of the upcoming spring semester. 

Two “little pantries” have been installed across campus, with one more coming soon after being delayed by last week’s snowfall, according to the Basic Needs Hub Coordinator Faith Borras. 

The pantries are located outside the Albert S. Cook Library, Towson Center and in the West Village Commons, Borras said. While staff and volunteers will fill the pantries once weekly, they are also expected to be maintained by the community in a “take what you need, leave what you can” style. 

Additionally, lockers have recently replaced the FoodShare bin for those using the remote pickup option, Borras said. Located on the second floor of the University Union and similar to the package lockers used by Postal Services, users will receive an access code via email to retrieve their order.

“We’ve actually gotten a lot of great feedback on the lockers just making it feel a little more personal and less stigmatizing than having to look like you’re necessarily digging in this bin for food,” she said. “I think our little pantries will go well, too.”

Borras said the Hub will continue its peer-to-peer Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program mentoring, which started in the fall. Some students in the Family Studies and Community Development department will learn the process of applying for SNAP benefits to then teach others how to apply. 

SNAP benefits for college students can vary. Gurjot Chand, the Americorps VISTA who helps manage the Hub, said she has seen students’ monthly benefits range from $86 to $300, averaging around $180. 

Previously consisting of just the FoodShare campus pantry, the Hub last semester opened its clothing closet, Tiger Threads, and a hygiene closet. 

Students may receive up to 10 food items and two clothing items per week, according to the Hub’s website

Over 10,000 food and hygiene items, totaling more than 9,000 lbs, were distributed last semester, according to data provided to The Towerlight. 

The Hub distributed close to 500 articles of clothing in that timeframe.

This month, it stocked over 100 winter coats after an $8,000 donation from the Student Government Association, Borras said. 

That money came from the SGA’s annual student support line item, President Jordan Colquitt said in an interview last week. 

The Hub is still working on attaining its food license so it can distribute perishable items, Borras said. The longstanding goal of partnering closely with the Towson chapter of the Food Recovery Network may be achieved when excess food from the dining halls can be redistributed via the FoodShare. 

The Food Recovery Network is a student-run group that collects excess food from on-campus eateries to donate to local food banks and shelters each week. 

Borras also said the next Americorps VISTA will be tasked with increasing the financial literacy programming at the Hub. 

The Hub, located in the Liberal Arts Annex building, is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the semester. 

Gabe Donahue has held numerous positions within The Towerlight. He started as a writer before becoming the News Editor, and now he serves as Editor-in-Chief.


Success! You're on the list.