News Archive

Oak Tree Food Pantry Set to Open on Campus

Published January 22, 2019

As social work students, Victoria Turner and Matthew Brunale are exposed to national and global issues such as hunger that challenge people’s ability to survive and thrive. Now, they’re looking to spread their knowledge to others while gaining experience addressing those issues right on campus. After teaming up with five Nazareth departments, Turner and Brunale are opening the Oak Tree food pantry at Nazareth. It’s a solution to a nationwide reality among college students — hunger or food insecurity.

The food pantry will be the first branch in a stepping stone program. The students’ goal is to create a support structure like a tree with multiple branches — or solutions — for a more sustainable campus environment.

After learning that services such as food pantries are increasingly offered at other colleges, the two students dove into the issue. They researched statistics on college students’ food insecurity and found a study by Temple University with the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, which found that a third of students are food insecure, while another third struggle to find housing. The high need motivated them to act.  

“It’s a national problem right now,” says Matthew Brunale. “It’s awesome to see Nazareth recognizes this is a need and seeing all of these departments on campus come together to make this process possible is truly empowering.” The five departments involved are Social Work, Health and Counseling, Student Activities, Campus Operations, and the Center for Civic Engagement, but in the end, this will be a collaborative effort among the entire community. Whether you utilize this new service, donate food, volunteer to help out, or use it as a placement for a course requirement, there are several opportunities to get civically engaged.

Campus Operations Director Brian McGahan helped the students bring their idea to life. "Matt and his team have done a tremendous job in developing and implementing an on-campus food pantry,” said McGahan. “Their passion, initiative, and ability to collaborate with a cross section of departments across campus has been very impressive. Food insecurity is a national trend. Through this work in the social work department, the students identified an issue and took action.”

The food pantry will be located in Colie’s Cafe in the lower level of George Hall, and will be open in the spring semester. Anyone within the Naz community, (students, faculty/staff, and alumni), is welcome to utilize this resource and will be allowed to take up to five items once a week. The privacy of each individual who uses the pantry will be honored.

“I’m excited about the program because I think that it says a lot about Nazareth, and that we’re becoming more aware as a community. It’s important that we take care of the students here so they can get the most out of their education,” said Victoria Turner of the food pantry development.

Among a large team effort that involved several different departments of the college, Mariel Mustello and Hannah Schweitz are two students who also played an instrumental role in the research and development of this new campus offering.

Wegmans graciously donated $100 worth of food to start filling the shelves. Donations are accepted from anyone at any time.

  • Plan to open mid-February 2019
  • The hours of operation are not set yet, but the hope is to be open Wednesday through Sunday with hours 12-8 p.m.
  • On campus Food Drive will take place the week of January 28 
For More Information

Julie Long | Chief PR Officer | 585-389-2456 or

Oak Tree Food Pantry

Nazareth University is an inclusive community of inspired learners, educators, and changemakers who for nearly 100 years have been driven by a bold commitment to action, empathy, equity, and leading innovation for the common good. Impact experiences are at the heart of a Nazareth education, preparing each student to discover within themselves the potential to cultivate positive change in their life's work, in any career field, and in a world that is constantly evolving and infinitely interconnected.

Our broad academic offerings present a range of study options typical of larger universities, yet achieved in our supportive campus culture. Nearly 2,100 undergrad and 600 graduate students enroll in degree and certificate programs and engage in collaborative, transformative learning experiences, preparing for the professions and society of today and tomorrow. In a learning community that purposefully integrates liberal arts and professional programs, Nazareth University graduates are able to launch a lifetime of impactful leadership in communities and workplaces near and far.

Social work student Matthew Brunale is getting the Oak Tree food pantry stocked before its mid-February opening.