GradImpact: Improving Access to Food Pantries for Food Insecure Populations

    Matthew Schwartz, a master’s student in the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, realized many of his clients were having difficulty accessing food pantries. As a case manager for the Jewish Family Service of Buffalo and Erie County, Schwartz noticed the requirements to utilize food pantries were often things food insecure people might not have. Some food pantries require a state-issued form of identification, official documentation of financial need, and some will only help people who live in designated zip codes. In addition, available transportation and limited hours can greatly limit people’s ability to get the food they need.

     

    Schwartz decided to step in and find a way to make food more accessible. Along with the local Jewish community, the United Church of Christ, and other case managers, Schwartz founded Food Gnomes, a mobile food pantry serving the Greater Buffalo Area. In addition to being stocked with food, each car is a mobile information center with details on housing and shelters, domestic violence programs, job and career training, educational opportunities, and more. Each driver is a local case manager able to provide assistance and referral to local services.

     

    “We really believe in having an impact by answering the needs as the community states them, not what we think they are,” Schwartz says. “We only have one question: Are you hungry? If the answer is yes, then we feed you.” To learn more about Matthew’s work, visit the University at Buffalo website.

     

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    **Photo Credit: Nancy J. Parisi, University at Buffalo Communications

     

     

     

    The CGS GRADIMPACT project draws from member examples to tell the larger story of graduate education. Our goal is to demonstrate the importance of graduate education not only to degree holders, but also to the communities where we live and work. Do you have a great story to share about the impact of master’s or doctoral education? Visit our WEBSITE for more information.

     

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