In the six months since the RIT FoodShare Center has opened, more than 500 people have taken advantage of free food and hygiene items that have been donated.
Now, the center is open seven days a week with expanded hours: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
“The usage is increasing every month we’re open,” said Sharon Kompalla-Porter, associate director of Residential Support and Success in the Center for Residence Life. “The students are taking advantage of it and we responded by restructuring the center’s hours to be open longer and in the evenings and on weekends. Because of the increase in demand and hours, we need more inventory.”
The center is organizing an S.O.S. (Stock Our Shelves) donation drive and is accepting non-perishable donations to carry them through the next several weeks.
Needed most are protein items such as canned meat and nut spreads, as well as grains and pasta, she said. Snack foods such as granola bars and breakfast cereals are also needed, as are canned fruits, vegan and gluten-free items.
And the FoodShare Center – staffed by resident advisors – is also accepting cleaning supplies including paper towels and toilet paper, and toiletries such as soap, deodorant and toothpaste.
The center has also collected winter coats, hats and gloves students may need as temperatures dip.
Donations may be brought to an open house scheduled 11 a.m. through 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the center, 113 Kimball Dr., next to the laundry room in the Riverknoll apartment complex. Doughnuts and cider will be served.
Donations may also be made at drop-off boxes outside the Alumni Relations Office near Crossroads, Student Government in the Campus Center, the Mosaic Center in the Student Alumni Union and outside the post office at Nathanial Rochester Hall.
Financial donations are also accepted now to help pay for supplies when inventory is low, Kompalla-Porter said. Contributions can be made through the RIT Development Office website by selecting “Your Choice,” “other,” and writing in “RIT FoodShare Fund.”
RIT FoodShare also has a Facebook group, where leftover food from campus events is advertised to help hungry students and eliminate food waste. More than 1,500 people are members of the Facebook group, Kompalla-Porter said.
Both initiatives began during the 2014-2015 academic year to help end food waste while helping members of the RIT community who may be struggling to pay for food. RIT students who started the RIT FoodShare program said surveys showed more than 40 percent of students run out of money in their food plans, and more than 60 percent of students say they have trouble budgeting for food.