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A Chicken in Every Pot
The need for food baskets extends beyond the holidays
By Suki Casanave '86G

Just a few years ago, the Cornucopia Food Pantry was filling about 40-50 food baskets every Christmas. It seemed like a lot for a small pantry used to about 15 or 20 requests at a time. This past year, volunteers filled about 170 baskets at Thanksgiving, feeding about 850 people. They did it again at Christmas. And they'll do another batch in the spring around Earth Day. "People are hungry all year long," says Larry Brickner-Wood, chaplain and executive director of the United Campus Ministry (UCM), which runs the ecumenical and interfaith Waysmeet Center in Durham. "Demand has shot up recently, though. People could use the support every week if it were feasible."

Started in 1997, Cornucopia is a collaborative effort coordinated by UCM and several UNH departments. Thanks to its recent move from Christensen Hall to the Waysmeet Center, the pantry is more accessible all year long for people in need of food—and the emotional support that is often served up along with the groceries. "People tell us they are treated here with kindness, compassion and warmth," says Brickner-Wood, who praises the pantry's many volunteers. "Most of our volunteers are students, and they are wonderful."

The pantry is also proud of its emphasis on fresh local produce and food, as well as a conscientious effort to accommodate cultural traditions and even food allergies. The increasing demand for pantry services comes from all parts of the UNH community: undergrads whose families are struggling to make ends meet and can't provide much support, international students, grad students with families, and UNH staff. "Our goal is to have the food pantry go out of business, but the need has been increasing. It's sort of an unseen problem here at UNH," says Brickner-Wood, who processes all the applications for assistance himself. "As people of spirit and as activists, we do this direct service because it's needed."

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