Robert Morris University held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the RMU Market on Wednesday, June 19, at the Chicago campus. The Market is a food pantry that will be available to all current RMU students to help alleviate food insecurity and hunger to those in need.

The original idea came from Title III Student Services Coordinator, Sandy Grice. “I had the idea to do something simple under Title III for students, like granola bars and canned soup. When the idea got out, it spread like wildfire,” Sandy said.  That idea turned into an ICenter project in the Spring of 2018 under the guidance of faculty advisor, Amy Dolhay. “We thought a food market would fit nicely. Amy is a rock star and has done so much with her ICenter classes to get the ball rolling,” added Sandy.

When the students reached out to President Krueger, hoping to deliver the results of their ICenter project regarding the food pantry, they received an immediate “yes”!  After listening to the presentation, President Krueger reflected, “National statistics tell us that as many as 50% of college students experience food insecurity at some point in their college careers.  I was overwhelmed with the social conscience of the students, as well as the professionalism and depth of this project.  They had a clear plan, implemented it quickly, and offered viable action plans.  Quite frankly, giving them the green light to move this forward was very easy.  I am in awe of our students every day, and the way they approached this project is a great example of experiential learning at its best.  The students chose a project they are passionate about and created a solution that can happen immediately.”

Sandy went on to organize a Title III Student Services Committee which included RMU employees Carolyn Smith, Amy Dolhay, Lauren Miller, Paul Gaszak, Carrie Roath, Kayla Linsner, and David Pyle.  The group met regularly over the past year to plan the logistics for the pantry. Employees were eager to be involved, and the pantry will be stocked with items donated by members of the RMU community as well as items purchased using monetary contributions. The Operations Department was instrumental in getting the pantry up and running.  Sandy and Amy worked with the department to secure a space in the 7th floor Student Center to house the market.  “The Operations Department was so accommodating! We had the room set up within a few weeks,” Sandy said.

The food pantry will be available for all current students to shop based on a point system. No student will be turned away.  “Initially our selection will include non-perishable items such as rice, pastas, canned fruit and vegetables, beans, and soups, to name a few,” described Amy Dolhay. “Our intent is to also provide a limited supply of personal care items, which will not count towards the point total for each student.”

Faculty, staff and students can contribute to the pantry anytime by dropping off non-perishable donations in the box outside of the Market.  If you would like to contribute monetarily or if you’d like to volunteer, please contact RMUMarket@robertmorris.edu.