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Weekly market focuses on helping students beat food insecurity

WCVB Boston logo WCVB Boston 2 days ago
salem pantry mobile market © Provided by WCVB Boston salem pantry mobile market

When thinking of the fight to end hunger, common concerns might include young children or older adults. But there's a growing effort to help college students, many of whom take on significant debt to pay for their education.

"Students have to make decisions," said Nate Bryant, VP for Student Success at Salem State University. "Do I buy this book or books, or do I pay for the meal plan?"

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For the past four years, Salem State University has partnered with the Salem Pantry to run a weekly mobile market just off campus. They put an emphasis on making this a welcoming, farmer's market-like feel.

"For the student population, we try to have a variety knowing that somebody on campus might not be able to cook onions with the resources they have in their dorm," said Robyn Byrnes, executive director of the Salem Pantry.

She said the organization has increased its staff and volunteers since the pandemic, to keep up with food insecurity in the area.

"Food costs have been soaring," Byrnes said. "I think general anxiety about things going on internationally and people just wanting a little extra help."

The mobile market operates year-round and is open to everyone but there is an emphasis on reaching out to students to let them know about the food and gift cards the Greater Boston Food Bank makes available.

"This is a need that kind of flies under the radar," said Byrnes. "So we're trying to bring awareness to this. If students can't, you know, eat, then they can't focus on their academics."

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