September may be Hunger Action Month, but Herkimer College takes steps year-round to address food insecurity with The General’s Cupboard, its free food pantry open to any student in need.

Operators of The General’s Cupboard, however, are utilizing the national awareness month to highlight this important resource, coordinate a snack food drive, and to educate the community on the issue of hunger.

“The General’s Cupboard exists for all students, with no questions asked,” said Rebecca Ruffing, the College’s director of public relations and Cupboard organizer. “It’s a warm, welcoming stigma-free environment where students can access nutritious food and necessities.”

The General’s Cupboard opened in September of 2019, and while the COVID-19 pandemic initially paused operations, the offerings have expanded, and the need continues.

Food insecurity negatively impacts a student’s ability to achieve their educational and professional pursuits. According to a Fall 2020 Hope Survey by Feeding America, 38 percent of students in two-year colleges reported experiencing food insecurity in the previous 30 days. The true scope of need on the Herkimer College campus is unknown as many students do not self-identify.

The 2020 Feeding America statistics for Herkimer County indicate that the food insecurity rate for residents of all ages is 12.2 percent with 74 percent of people falling below the SNAP and other nutrition program eligibility threshold – higher than national averages.

The General’s Cupboard, located in the Robert McLaughlin College Center, stocks a variety of free canned and packaged foods, with fresh foods now available, along with personal care and miscellaneous items. Fall semester hours are Tuesdays from 1-3 p.m. and Fridays from 12 to 2 p.m. Only a valid student ID is required. Appointments are available by contacting generalscupboard@herkimer.edu. In emergency situations, students can reach out to Campus Safety at 315-866-0300 x8616.

Herkimer College will be highlighting The General’s Cupboard September 19-23 with social media awareness on Instagram and Facebook and a Grab-and-Go Snack Food Drive. The College is asking the campus community and wider Herkimer County community for donations of healthy, on-the-go snacks such as peanuts, trail mix, granola or cereal bars, and bottled water.

Donations can be dropped off now through September 23, inside the front entrance of the Robert McLaughlin College Center, located by office RMCC 255 across from the Cogar Gallery.

Monetary donations can be made by visiting www.herkimer.edu/give.

Additional information about The General’s Cupboard can be found at www.herkimer.edu/cupboard. Follow the College at Facebook.com/HerkimerCollege and Instagram.com/HerkimerCollege.