Just in time for the holidays, Brooklyn College has opened a food pantry funded by a grant from the Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation. The pantry joins a constellation of student support services designed to help in emergencies with everything from tax preparation, housing, and certain uninsured medical expenses, to funds for textbooks, transportation, and childcare.

Forty percent of CUNY students have already experience food insecurity. With 58 percent of Brooklyn College students coming from families that earn less than $40,000 annually, the college’s Division of Student Affairs decided to replace an old program that provided students with vouchers redeemable at local retailers with an in-house food pantry.

Ronald C. Jackson, the dean of students, says the pantry will be able to serve more students and their families—up to 100 per month. For $9,000 per year the Petrie Foundation— pays for food that is delivered to the college every three months. The college has also collected thousands of items of canned food that will be on the pantry’s shelves.

Students in need will be able to make a confidential appointment to visit the pantry, which is designed like a grocery store, and allowed to select their own food. Jackson adds that having the pantry will help college officials get a better handle on the number of students who are likely struggling with a host of financial and other issues.

“We want to find better ways to serve this population,” he says.

Pantry staff will consult with students and faculty members from the college’s Department of Health and Nutrition Sciences about helping to plan healthy meals, and with business students who will manage the office and order supplies.

“We also want this to be an experiential learning  experience,” Jackson says.

Six years ago, the Petrie Foundation has awarded the college a three-year, $300,000 grant. Last spring, the grant was extended for another three years through 2018.

Since 2005, more than 430 students at Brooklyn College have been helped by the Petrie Student Emergency Grants. “These are students who have real emergencies, and yet they stay [in school], which is why we do this,” says Beth J. Lief, executive director of the Petrie Foundation. As of last spring, some 91 percent of Brooklyn College grant recipients were able to remain in school or graduate for academic year 2014–15.