SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — While it might be tucked away in a small room at Hendricks Chapel, the food pantry fills a great need at Syracuse University.

“It’s a pantry for students by students,” said Syeisha Byrd, Office of Engagement Programs Director.

It’s well stocked with non-perishable food as well as personal care items. “We try to provide toiletries, dish soap, one of the biggest requests was cleaning supplies,” Byrd said.

While it has served the campus community for a number of years, the need for it has increased since the start of the pandemic. “Most of the students we serve are upper level students – juniors, seniors, grad students. That’s because they have their own apartments. they’re not on a meal plan, they’re not living in the residence halls.” Byrd explained. “So, they realize once they get out on their own and they’re paying bills, ‘Whoa, I don’t have enough money to afford food.'”

Byrd said this is an issue on college campuses across the country. “We know that 1 in 3 students experience some type of food insecurity,” She added. “Food insecurity could be you passing up a meal for a day.”

Before the pandemic, students were able to come in the pantry and shop. Now all they have to do is scan a QR code and place their order. “You walk up, you give us your name and we hand you a bag,” Byrd said about the new process.

Donations come from faculty, staff, students and alumni. Hendricks Chapel held a fundraising campaign called Cuse Food Funder, that exceeded their $5,000 goal. “Every dollar is helping our community. Every dollar is staying here. You can look around and see what the money is going towards,” said Patrick Penfield, Student Fundraiser Coordinator.

A second pantry has been added on south campus, and they now have a garden to provide healthy options. Last year, they harvested 450 pounds of fresh produce. They are now able to do more. Penfield’s message to his fellow students was, “Don’t be scared to ask for help. That’s why this is here.”

It’s a way to for the entire community to ensure stomachs and hearts are full.