For students remaining on campus, the Ramapo food pantry has remained open throughout the COVID-19 closure to provide essentials.
Though all classrooms have become remote, a small group of Ramapo students are remaining in campus residency. These students are quarantined like everyone else, which means avoiding going out to public places if they can. Like everyone else, grocery shopping is quite the predicament for them.
“There are so many students dealing with food insecurity on top of other things,” said Jack Nesmith, coordinator for the Civic and Community Engagement Center. Nesmith also works as a core member of the We Care program.
Nesmith estimates that 90 students are remaining on campus, which is a significant amount when it comes to keeping social distance. Essential services on campus have therefore remained intact, like dining services.
However, these services are limited. Students need to request a meal from the dining hall to be picked up, a precaution taken to lower the risk of spreading any potential disease.
“At first, I would see little gatherings,” said Afrah Loskor, a junior still living on campus. “But after a student got it, I think it knocked some sense into everyone.”
Loskor expressed how serious they have taken the pandemic from the beginning, seeing how they are immunocompromised.
“We were allowed to stay in our dorms,” Loskor said. “And then at 8 p.m. we were told we had 12 hours [to leave], so naturally we panicked.”
Loskor said that the food pantry has been a useful resource during this time. Not only does the pantry offer food, but it also offers products like toilet paper, body wash and menstrual products.
The pantry functions on orders made by students, and We Care does their best to have a variety of accommodating items for students with dietary restrictions. During this time, the inventory is ordered from different places, but the shortages may affect them just as they have affected everyone else.
Regardless of the situation, the We Care team is dedicated to being there for students. Nesmith shared that he has been working at the pantry and values being able to be a friendly face in this stressful time.
“It really shows the strength of a lot of people,” he said. “It’s great to see people come together for the students.”
The sense of community at Ramapo is incredibly important during this time. It is crucial that everyone does their part in social distancing, but also be there for those in their communities even if they cannot be physically present.
“It’s very scary, especially when you see people not taking this seriously,” said Loskor. “It’s not about you, it’s very rarely about you.”
For students who are immunocompromised, those in essential job positions or those that have no choice but to go out, this is an especially concerning time. Some cannot avoid going out to obtain medication, buy necessities or work, so it is the responsibility of everyone else to remain isolated.
The food pantry at Ramapo is just one more resource to help students remain on campus, rather than exposing themselves to packed grocery stores. The dedication of the We Care staff shows that the Ramapo community puts the students first and will do whatever they can to help in this time of mutual uncertainty.
“Because of the food pantry,” said Loskor, “Not as many people are going out and putting themselves and others at risk.”