Tucked into a corner of the RCC sits the Food Bank 4 U, and sitting outside it are Jane Doherty and her daughter Julia. As students come and go, the pair greets each student, helping them to find what they need. She asks how their spring break went, and how classes are going.
Food Bank 4 U is a food bank dedicated to combating food insecurity and hunger amongst the student population. The food bank is entirely anonymous, and free to any student, with no questions asked. Food Bank 4 U was founded by Jane Doherty and her daughter Julia in 2014. After receiving a social justice grant and securing space in the RCC, they were able to fund the opening of the food bank. Since then, they have relied almost entirely on contributions from the campus community. “Everything in this room was donated by the campus community,” Jane says, gesturing to shelves filled with non-perishable foods. Food Bank 4 U provides non-perishable foods, as well as frozen food through a partnership with Sodexo, and toiletries provided by Hope and Comfort, Inc. The food bank itself is open any time the Campus Center is open, and students are free to take anything they need.
“We have frozen yogurt today!” Julia excitedly tells everyone who comes to pick up food. The pair had gotten frozen yogurt for their J’s Market initiative through their recent partnership with the Greater Boston Food Bank. The partnership Food Bank 4 U now has with the Greater Boston Food Bank allows them to provide fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy, and other fresh food on Wednesdays and Thursdays to students who stop by. “Someone else took the last case of melons,” Jane explained, “but we were able to frozen yogurt, which we’ve never gotten before.” On this day, in addition to the frozen yogurt, J’s Market has eggs, and a wide assortment of potatoes, as well as some sweet potatoes, and a wide array of other food. Julia talks sweet potato recipes with a student who has come to pick up food. “I like to try to help students who might not know how to cook learn how to cook,” Jane explains. Throughout the hour, Jane offers recommendations to student after student.
Jane’s recommendations, however, didn’t stop at meal prep. “Now, have you gone to the internship office?” Jane asks one student. She discusses future plans and classes with students who come by, and encourages them to seek various opportunities. Watching Jane, it is abundantly clear that this isn’t just about providing food to students who need it. What the food bank seems to provide, just as much as food, is opportunity, community, and warmth. “You see the smile on their faces, and it makes the drive worth it.” Jane says. But truly, it seems it isn’t just the food Jane collects that puts smiles on students faces, but how kind, happy, and caring both she and Julia are.
When asked why she is so dedicated to serving the student body, and going above and beyond for students, Jane paused. “We have a lot of ties to this university… the university becomes like a family.” Jane and Julia both attended BSU, as did both of Jane’s parents. “My mother was also a big influence… My mother always instilled that you need to give back,” Jane explained. Jane’s mother is also involved in Food Bank 4 U, making handmade hats that the Food Bank 4 U distributes. “She makes them while watching baseball,” Jane explained, laughing, “if you see a slipped stitch, it means the Red Sox did something exciting.” Mostly, though, it is for the students, Jane explained, “There’s always hungry students.”
The Food Bank 4 U is first and foremost a program designed to help students who need it have access to reliable, healthy food options, no questions asked. But it is also so much more than that. It is a community of people caring for people.
Food Bank 4 U is open any time the Campus Center is open, and is located in RCC 012. The service is completely anonymous, and completely free to all students, on a take-what you-need basis, no questions asked. J’s Market, the Food Bank 4 U initiative that provides fresh food, is open 12:30-3 PM every Wednesday and Thursday.
Food Bank 4 U relies on donations from the campus community. If you are interested in donating, there are donation boxes located across campus, or donations can be dropped off at the food bank in RCC 012.
For more information, you can find Food Bank 4 U on Facebook and Instagram @FoodBank