Monday, September 25, 2017 - 1:00pm
Bronx Campus

Canned soup, tuna, and peanut butter might seem like uninspiring pantry staples to some. But to others, these items are a literal lifeline.

Food insecurity—the state of lacking reliable access to sufficient quantities of food—is a growing issue on college campuses, including Mercy College. So this month, Mercy is opening its first food pantry, The Maverick Market.

The Maverick Market will be open on the third Thursday of every month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Any student, staff, or faculty member is welcome to visit room 4115 on the Bronx campus to pick up non-perishable food items. With a soft opening on September 21, the grand opening of the Maverick Market is scheduled for October 19 as part of a larger showcase of the Office of ACCESSibility, Student Counseling Office, and Health Office from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

No one will be turned away from the Maverick Market, and the visit is confidential. Beyond answering a few anonymous demographic questions, visitors will not even need to give their names or CWIDs.

“We don’t want anyone to feel stigmatized,” explains Felipe Henao, Executive Director of Student Life, Health & Wellness. “It’s a service we’re providing because we know there’s a need. It would be so unfortunate if we open this market and no one comes.”

The Maverick Market is the result of almost two years of planning and collaboration among several Mercy departments, including Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, Human Resources, and Legal. Operating as a pilot in the 2017-2018 academic year, the food pantry will open one day per month on one campus. However, assuming that there is demonstrated need, the program will likely expand in future years, potentially opening locations on other Mercy campuses and offering more frequent hours.

Anecdotal evidence from several Mercy faculty and staff members suggests that a significant percentage of Mercy students experience food insecurity at some point each academic year. Research confirms this likelihood. A recent study of undergraduates in community colleges indicates that 20% of students experience food insecurity. And a 2010 study at the City University of New York (CUNY) indicated that about 40% of CUNY students had experienced food insecurity in the past 12 months, a number that was notably higher for students working more than 20 hours per week and for Black and Latino/a students. Given that both studies surveyed student populations that are similar to Mercy’s, food insecurity is most likely a relatively common issue at Mercy.

If they have the means, students, faculty, and staff members are encouraged to donate non-perishable foods—such as pasta, canned goods, and granola bars—to The Maverick Market at one of several locations:
• Dobbs Ferry: room 118 in Hudson Hall, first floor of Main Hall, Library
• Bronx: Atrium
• Manhattan: PACT Office
• Yorktown Heights: OES Office
Mercy is a college with heart, and donors have already stocked the Maverick Market for its opening day.

Recognizing that the Maverick Market cannot rely solely on the generosity of the Mercy community, organizers are actively seeking local partners and corporate sponsors. PepsiCo has donated a cooler for storage, and organizers are working with food service vendor Lessing’s to explore the possibility of enabling students to donate unused dining dollars to the Maverick Market.

No one should have to choose between buying textbooks and buying groceries. And with the Maverick Market, no one at Mercy will have to.

For more information, please contact