Haley Moraniec is a senior majoring in social work. Moraniec is the Student Project Coordinator for Swoop’s Student Food Pantry. According to the food pantry’s website, the pantry’s “mission is to provide temporary food assistance for enrolled EMU students in need.” Moraniec wrote the proposal for the food pantry and presented it alongside Lynn Nybell, the director of the School of Social Work to the Board of Regents. The Board of Regents approved the proposal and the food pantry opened in September 2015. Moraniec now works at the food pantry to fulfill her field placement in social work. The following is a Q & A done with her to answer some questions about the pantry’s beginnings and Moraniec’s duties at the food pantry.
Q: How did you get the idea for the food pantry?
A: I realized a lot of other universities had this food pantry idea as a resource for the students but Eastern did not.
Q: What inspired you to take the initiative and help spearhead this project?
A: I guess as a social work major we talk a lot about hunger in class…I realized a lot of my peers are faced with the choices of deciding between food or healthcare expenses, or textbooks, or so many other things.
Q: What work did you have to do to get the food pantry started, besides getting approval from the Board of Regents?
A: Working with the School of Social Work, Dr. Nybell, who’s the director of the School of Social Work, kind of took me under her wing and helped me to push the project.
Q: So how did you get this premise? How did all of that come together? Was it in your proposal?
A: Once we got an ‘okay’ from the Board of Regents, Dr. Nybell asked the College of Health and Human Services if we could take over the mailroom, because mail is electronic now and not many people receive mail anyways…For the food, I filled out a community partner application to Food Gatherers, just trying to partner with them, and they accepted it and now we receive about 60 percent of our food from Food Gatherers.
Q: I saw that your title is Student Project Coordinator. What are your responsibilities?
A: That’s a difficult question to answer, because everything. I guess some things I could actually list for you are overseeing the work study students who are working in the pantry, to make sure that everything is not expired, and tidy, and up to health code standards [and] organizing volunteers when we have events, like a food drive or something. I wrote the proposal, and I also wrote the manual, so all of the policies that are involved in the pantry.
Q: How much time do you dedicate to the food pantry?
A: That’s a really great question…Honestly, I’d say like 40 hours a week.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your work with the food pantry?
A: So many things. I guess I have a really great opportunity to connect with a lot of different people, and by that I mean I can connect with a lot of different students and they teach me a lot and I learn a lot about different situations. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with a lot of faculty members and I’ve learned a lot through them….but then also having the opportunity to educate the community about food insecurity and to talk to people about it, because it is something that is incredibly stigmatized.
Q: How do you ensure that the pantry is sustainable?
A: By having that partnership with Food Gatherers. They support us. Like I said, about 60 percent of our food comes from Food Gatherers, and then also making sure we always have food drives running, and staying on good terms with faculty and student organizations who organize those food drives. We also have a fund through Eastern’s foundation where people can donate monetarily.
Q: How do you get the word out about the pantry?
A: Getting the word out has been an interesting balance between being both confidential and creating an environment where it’s not looked at as something to be ashamed of. So while we do have fliers posted across campus, the majority of people find out by word of mouth.
Q: What are your hopes for Swoop’s Food Pantry moving forward?
A: I hope that we can move to a larger space sooner than later because we are very limited by our space. Maybe serve hot meals one day, but that’s obviously a pretty long-term plan.
For more information on eligibility and donating, the pantry can be contacted at (724) 487-4137 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. The pantry is located at 376 Marshall Hall. Hours are Monday - Wednesday 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday's 10 a.m. to noon and 3 p.m. to 6p.m., as well at 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every second Saturday of the month.