After nearly a year of being shut down, the Office of Urban and Off-Campus Support Services, or U-ACCESS, food pantry is slated to reopen on Tuesday, March 2, 2021.
According to Honey Gala and Diana Surzhko—the two communication coordinators at U-ACCESS whom the Mass Media interviewed via email—the U-ACCESS food pantry was forced to shut down as a result of the campus shutdown that occurred at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March of 2020.
According to Gala and Surzhko, “[The] pantry was able to reopen as a result of hard work from our U-ACCESS team, as we advocated for the needs of our students.”
Though the food pantry has reopened, it is still limited in its service at this point.
“Currently, [the] Food Pantry is open only on Tuesdays for pick-ups,” responded Gala and Surzhko, “but as the demand increases we are hoping to be open additional days during the week.”
University-approved COVID-19 protocols and safety precautions are currently being taken at the food pantry as well.
“[The] U-ACCESS staff follows a weekly safety plan, and is only allowed to work on campus with approval from their supervisor and the university,” wrote Gala and Surzhko. “All the U-ACCESS staff will get tested every week before coming to the U-ACCESS pantry. They will be allowed to enter the campus only after they have received a negative COVID-19 test.”
“Our staff will also follow the guidelines for sanitation and hygiene while being on campus for their shift,” continued Gala and Surzhko. “Face covering[s] are mandatory for all the staff members when on campus. Our staff will practice social distancing at all times in and out of the Campus Center.” Surzhko assurred the Mass Media that all safety guideline are followed.
Any student enrolled in at least one credit at UMass Boston is eligible for all services offered at U-ACCESS, including the food pantry. Supplies at the pantry include groceries, toiletries, personal protective equipment, and school supplies.
In order to access the food pantry resources, students must complete a form by each Friday at 5 p.m., and pick up their supplies at the requested time the next Tuesday.
The form can be completed on a weekly basis, and orders can be submitted after the 5 p.m. deadline, however, there may be a limited supply if the form is not submitted before 5 p.m. Still, Gala and Surzhko maintain that even late orders will be fulfilled to “[their] best ability.” The link to that form is: bit.ly/UMBPantry.
University-approved COVID-19 safety precautions and protocols are also being followed during the supply pickup process.
In order to pick up supplies, students must wait in their vehicles or stand six feet apart outside of the Campus Center and call 781-951-2724. Then, supplies will be brought out for curbside pick-up within five minutes.
The U-ACCESS meal donation program had previously allowed a UMass Boston student with a meal plan to donate one of their Guest Meal swipes to a student in need of a meal. This program is currently “on hold,” according to Gala and Surzhko due to the dining halls in the dorms being closed.
According to the U-ACCESS food pantry website, two out of every five UMass Boston students are food insecure. Anyone who needs support should email the program at firstname.lastname@example.org. The director of the program is Mariette Ayala.
“[The] U-ACCESS team is happy and excited to see you back,” wrote Gala and Surzhko. “We are motivated to help every student in need!”