UMass Boston plans to open a student food pantry next week. (CC Chapman/Flickr) UMass Boston plans to open a student food pantry next week. (CC Chapman/Flickr)

The University of Massachusetts Boston will start distributing food to hungry students next week.

The program is part of the school's Office of Urban and Off-Campus Support Services, known as U-ACCESS, which helps students with non-academic issues including homelessness, poverty, and domestic violence.

U-ACCESS Director Shirley Fan-Chan says full and part time students who qualify will receive a monthly "food bag." Currently, the food pantry is scheduled to be open twice a month, starting Monday, Feb. 25.

 

Fan-Chan says a pilot program in December, which provided food to 20 students, highlighted an ongoing need.

"I don't think this is something that is rare," she told the Boston Globe. "It has been existing, and we haven't been talking about it."

A growing number of colleges and universities around the country have opened student food pantries within the last few years, but it's believed that UMB's will be the first in Massachusetts.

The food pantry is accepting contributions at several locations on campus, and Fan-Chan is encouraging student groups to hold donation drives.

"I think the support from the UMass Boston community is tremendous because they get it," Fan-Chan said. "They understand that some of these students have been through a lot to get onto this higher education track, and they don't want them to fail. They want them to succeed."

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