| Carolyn Noel
SPRINGFIELD – Stop & Shop is partnering with Always, the world’s leading menstruation brand, to donate 250,000 pads to Stop & Shop’s School Food Pantry partners. Donation locations include partners in Boston, Fall River, as well as schools throughout New Jersey. In the Western Massachusetts area, Springfield Technical Community (STCC) has received a portion of these donations.
Stop & Shop created an emergency food pantry at STCC about two years ago, due to the growing need of its students. The pantry, known as the Ram Cupboard, first provided food to students facing food insecurity, but soon expanded further.
“There was a litany of varied items that were needed,” said Stop & Shop’s External Communications & Community Relations Manager Maura O’Brien.
The food pantry then began supplying items such as feminine products, soap, detergent, baby food and household essentials.
According to O’Brien, there was a definite need for this feminine product donation on campus.
“We know that there is a need on campus for these items. So when Always approached us and told us that they had these items to donate, I worked with STCC to make sure that they had the ability to accept the high volume of pads that they would be able to provide for them. Once they said that they could accept such a large donation we were able to get them right over to them,” she said.
The pads were distributed to the STCC Food Pantry during the week of Nov. 2.
In a press release, Always shared the results of a recent study. It said that “One out of three parents are worried about their ongoing ability to afford period products – an issue known as period poverty.”
O’Brien further emphasized this and how the donation will help female students attending STCC.
“Making sure that female students have access to necessary items will help to alleviate the pressure off of them and then thereby allow them to focus more heavily on their studies,” she said. “Taking one additional item off the plate of what they need to worry about paying for was important to us.”
According to O’Brien, any STCC student in need can go to the food pantry to pick up items, whether it be pads or food to get them through the day.
To further help STCC students, Stop & Shop sets up donation bins at local stores to collect non-perishables for the pantry. They also fund the food pantry with gift cards throughout the year to help purchase the food needed to keep shelves stocked, said O’Brien.
This year, due to the pandemic, administration provided some students directly with gift cards from Stop & Shop. This gave the students the opportunity to purchase their own food and necessities, despite the fact that they weren’t directly on campus.
“There still was a need for them to have access to food,” said O’Brien.