The Tangerine Grove set to reopen March 15

Photo+from+Alexandria+Leland.

Photo from Alexandria Leland.

Bailey Hryb, Managing Editor

One year after closing its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Tangerine Grove, Utica College’s in-house food pantry, is set to reopen on March 15.

The Tangerine Grove, which focuses on providing UC community members with food and personal care products, is learning how to navigate the new way of life to ensure that people can receive the items that they need while remaining safe. 

“Our goal was, and continues to be, to provide food and hygiene resources to those who need them so that every member of the UC family has the opportunity to reach their full potential,” Internship Program Director for Nutrition Erin Kelly said. “We know that the reopening process will be challenging because we’re using a new system, but hopefully we can still provide significant assistance to those who want it.”

Photo of Internship Program Director for Nutrition, Erin Kelly. Credit: Alexandria Leland.

 

One year ago this month, UC was forced to shut down campus and transition to online learning and at-home work due to COVID-19 rapidly infiltrating our society. As a result, The Tangerine Grove had to shutter its doors just as they started to hit its stride. 

Kelly, who helped The Tangerine Grove with its grand opening back during the 2019-2020 school year, said COVID-19 restrictions have created difficulties for reopening and that changes have since been implemented to adhere to the college’s rules.

“Two issues arose from the shut down in the spring,” Kelly said. “One, we gave away most of our food, so we’ve had to work on rebuilding our stock during the fall semester. And two, we’ve had to redesign our procedures for food pickup. The classroom that houses The Tangerine Grove is relatively small and due to COVID-19 safety measures, it’s not practical or safe to have several clients and volunteers in the room simultaneously.” 

As a result, The Tangerine Grove has designed a new process for those in need to gain access to donated products. Instead of visiting the pantry in-person, community members can now order products online and pick up their items during a selected time slot, thus reducing the number of people allowed in the store at once and cutting down on time spent looking around. 

“During the fall semester, dietetic interns researched pantry order fulfillment systems,” Kelly said. “We were able to use some grant money to purchase access to one called PantrySoft. It has taken some time to get the system set up and our cabinets restocked, but we believe we’re ready to open our doors again. Those who need to use the pantry for food or hygiene supplies are invited to visit the pantry webpage on the UC website.”

After patrons create an account, they will be able to add available items to their cart and reserve them until they are able to pick them up. 

While all members of the UC community are invited to shop at the pantry, they are also urged to donate items to help restock the pantry so there is enough for everyone who is in need. 

“In addition, keep an eye out around campus for our blue collection bins,” Kelly said. “These are put in public spaces and monitored by students in the TR Society, who will be overseeing a semester-long food drive to restock our supply. We can take any non-perishable meal and snack foods that appeal to students who have access to a kitchen and to those who don’t. We just ask that donors check the expiration date before donating, as we cannot distribute foods that are past their ‘best by’ date or those that don’t have a date.”

The Tangerine Grove is expected to be busier than it has been previously, which is why Kelly is looking for more volunteers who are willing to lend a helping hand towards the mission of the pantry. 

“Once we’re fully staffed, the pantry will be open to pick up orders Monday – Friday 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 4 – 5 p.m.,” she said. “We’re also in need of volunteers to help fill orders. If anyone is free during our open hours and would like to volunteer, even for a short time, they can contact me via email.” 

The Tangerine Grove is located in classroom 180 of the Gordon Science Center. Any UC community member that is interested in shopping at the pantry must visit their website in order to create an account with PantrySoft to start browsing available items. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Kelly at [email protected].