Written by Jason Rogers, BSW intern
Photographs by Christina LeBel, Human Services Student
The Captain’s Cupboard will celebrate six years of operations next month. Located on Southern Maine Community College’s South Portland campus, the Captain’s Cupboard provides students access to food and other resources that assist them in meeting their basic needs.
In 2013, students in the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society partnered with SMCC faculty to open the Captain’s Cupboard. The opening of the Cupboard was a response to research that showed 31.5% of students at SMCC did not have reliable access to nutritious food. This number is consistent with findings on college campuses across the country. According to recent studies, between 30-50% of college students experience some level of food insecurity.
Food insecurity is linked with chronic physical and mental health conditions, poor academic performance and increased financial aid debt amongst college students. The goal of the Captain’s Cupboard is to eliminate food insecurity and support student success here at SMCC. This goal can only be achieved if students are made aware of the Cupboard’s existence and the services it provides.
Since the Cupboard’s inception, volunteers and board members have consistently thought of ways to improve outreach to students while providing them with reliable access to nutritious food. These volunteers and board members change with the passing of each academic year, but the mission of the Cupboard continues to attract the involvement of new students. With these new volunteers come new ideas for future projects.
Recently, several culinary students have started putting together bags of common ingredients found in the Cupboard, along with recipe cards. These bags will be distributed to several faculty members to give to students along with information about the Captain’s Cupboard. These bags are just one way that the Board hopes to increase awareness about the services the Cupboard provides.
The Cupboard has also been planning to open a welcome center that will provide a place for students to drink a cup of coffee and study. Board members and past volunteers have worked tirelessly to secure funds to equip this space with a Keurig machine, and also hope to be able to offer pastries for a quick snack from time to time.
The Captain’s Cupboard is also always looking for new ways to reduce food waste on campus and in the community. Volunteers and board members have worked to continue the cupboard’s tradition of food recovery by offering leftover meals that are prepared weekly by culinary arts students. The cupboard has also partnered with local businesses to offer day old bagels and bread, and is planning to expand food recovery to the dining hall.
In addition, all food that is no longer safe for the Cupboard to distribute is composted through Garbage to Garden. Garbage to Garden in turn supplies compost to farmers and gardeners throughout Maine.
With all the new projects the volunteers have been working on, the focus of the Captain’s Cupboard remains the same as it did when the doors first opened in 2013: to work hard to ameliorate food insecurity in the SMCC community.
The Captain’s Cupboard is located in the Captain’s House at 126 McKernan Drive, South Portland, Maine. The Cupboard has recently increased hours on Tuesdays to be open until 3:00 pm. The Captain’s Cupboard is open:
Monday 10:00 am- 1:00pm
Tuesday 10:00 am- 3:00pm
Thursday 10:00 am- 1:00 pm
Friday 12:00 pm- 5:00 pm
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