Amazon helps keep college’s food pantry stocked with $100,000 food donation

As students across New York City return to in-person classes, Amazon is donating $100,000 worth of food to a local community college’s on-campus food panty that supports thousands of students each year. Amazon is also donating an industrial refrigerator to help the pantry keep more fresh food on hand.

The Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) runs the Panther Pantry, which offers nutritionally balanced food for students facing a food emergency. Amazon’s donations include popular prepared items from Amazon Fresh and Amazon Go, including chicken caesar wraps and salads, egg salad sandwiches, and chicken Banh Mi sandwiches from Amazon Kitchen. The donated industrial refrigerator will also help BMCC stock more in-demand cold products like yogurt, fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins.

“Food insecurity is real. I see it every day on campus. BMCC students are sometimes uncomfortable asking for help when they come to us at the Panther Pantry, but we make sure they know we are on their side,” said Deborah Harte, director of the BMCC’s Advocacy and Resource Center, which runs the food pantry.

“The struggle to balance grocery, transportation, and housing expenses in New York City can be tough, even for students who work, and no student should have to choose between paying for groceries and rent. I’m excited that Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh have joined BMCC in working to stop student hunger,” Harte said. “Our students work hard, and by removing food insecurity, we can help them be their best.”

According to Feeding America, food pantries within schools help alleviate student hunger because they provide a safe, easily accessible, and discreet source of food for students and their families. School-based food banks also remove the need for an extra trip to another location to access a food bank for families or students struggling to keep up with high demand and high prices.

“When we think about what our higher education students require to thrive, we cannot forget the basic essentials,” said New York City Council Member Eric Dinowitz, chair of the Committee on Higher Education. “CUNY schools throughout our city offer vital food pantry services to students in need, but there is always more that can be done. I want to extend my appreciation to Amazon for donating $100,000 in food items to the Borough of Manhattan Community College, a wonderful institution that educates tens of thousands of students in our city. I cannot understate how important fresh, healthy food is for New Yorkers, especially our students. This donation will help many, and I look forward to continued collaboration with our private partners.”

BMCC has operated the Panther Pantry since 2018, but the COVID-19 pandemic has exasperated food insecurity and had a disproportionate impact on lower-income neighborhoods, including those that are home to most BMCC students. From July 2021 through June 2022, over 4,000 bags of food were distributed to about 1,800 students.

The pantry provides dry and canned goods, gluten-free foods, milk options, low- or sugar-free items, and frozen foods such as ground beef, halal poultry, kosher fish, and veggie burgers. The Panther Pantry also provides ready-to-eat snacks and small meals for students on the go or living in the shelter system, and many students are eligible for supermarket gift cards. The Panther Pantry also helps students complete applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

“Amazon’s donation will strengthen the great work BMCC is already doing within their robust on-campus food pantry,” said Ayesha Harper, director of Amazon Convenience, which includes Amazon Go stores and Amazon Kitchen food offerings. “Our prepared grab-and-go food items and wide variety of additional products will help BMCC add even more options to their pantry so that students in need have access to foods they want and enjoy.”

There are currently 10 Amazon GB stores in New York City, each offering a range of grab-and-go food, beverages, and everyday essentials at great value. The stores have no lines and no checkout thanks to Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology. Amazon-Freshwhich opened its first New York store in Oceanside in July 2022, is a grocery store designed to offer a seamless shopping experience, whether customers are shopping in store or online.

Amazon is committed to fighting food insecurity in the communities it calls home, and the company has donated tens of thousands of meals from across its Amazon Fresh and Amazon Go operations in the New York region. Amazon also supports organizations like Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, the largest soup kitchen and pantry program in New York City, and St. John’s Bread and Life, which runs a free mobile soup kitchen in Brooklyn and Queens.

Amazon and BMCC also work together as part of CareerChoiceAmazon’s prepaid tuition program for operations employees looking to further their education.

For more information on how to participate and support BMCC, contact the Office for Institutional Advancement at advancement@bmcc.cuny.edu.

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