The Rams Resource Center (RRC) is only accessible through scheduled appointments with the Dean of Students Office for the Fall 2020 semester.
The RRC, which opened on Sep. 24, 2018, is the University’s food pantry created to help reduce food insecurity on campus by providing students with non-perishable foods, as well as toiletries and other supplies.
FSU administrators closed the RRC to walk-in visits due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and students who need to utilize the center should contact Kay Kastner, the coordinator of student support initiatives, by phone or email to schedule an appointment.
Kastner said the RRC operates by “appointment only so that we can restrict the number of people at the Resource Center at any given time.”
Kastner said although students must make appointments, the RRC still operates as it did during previous semesters, but with added safety measures in place.
Sneeze guards have been installed and social distancing practices are in place. Students must also use hand sanitizer provided at the entrance before shopping.
During previous semesters, students were limited to only four non-food items or toiletries per visit, but those restrictions have been lifted for the current semester.
Kastner said this was done “to allow students to do more shopping at one time and reduce the number of visits they need to make.”
The RRC is also offering hand sanitizer and face masks, but students are limited to one of each.
Unlike previous semesters, however, there are no student volunteers at the RRC.
Kastner said traditionally, the RRC would need two or three volunteers present at the center during hours of operation, but because of the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, this would be difficult to maintain during the current semester.
Kastner also explained the difficulty with trying to balance the needs and obligations of volunteers with those of the community. “We want to be respectful of other responsibilities that volunteers have.
“If we only have one person scheduled and they’re not able to make it, and someone shows up, it can be sort of challenging, because they needed someone to be there and they’re not there,” she said. “It’s a little bit embarrassing.”
Many students understand that changes had to be made at RRC this semester.
Tanisha Jean, a junior child and family studies major, said she doesn’t think the appointment-only policy is restrictive. “Everything is appointment only at this point,” she said.
Matt Mulcahy, a junior finance major, said, “Seeing how that’s pretty much the way most things are, like the gym and the dining hall, it doesn’t seem that inconvenient.”
Other students believe the new policy could hinder people who need help.
Vallerie Dely, a sophomore fashion design and merchandising major, said, “If [students] really do need help, they can get an appointment.” But, she added, “Then again, they probably don’t have time for that.”
Selena Sheehy, a junior child and family studies major, said, “I get it with everything going on, but maybe it might be hard for students who can’t make it.”
In place of volunteering at the RRC, Kastner suggested other ways students can help.
Kastner said, “There have been some people who have set up Amazon subscription services that donate items regularly to the RRC.”
Monetary donations by FSU alumni can also be designated to the RRC through the “Make a Gift” section of the Alumni Page on the FSU website.
Non-perishable food donations to the RRC can still be made at the drop-off boxes outside the Dean of Students Office.
Students can also donate meal swipes to the Emergency Meal Bank, which provides up to five meal swipes per semester to students facing food insecurity and financial need.
On Oct. 6, FSU Dining Services posted on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter it would donate a bag of non-perishable food items to the RRC “for every meal plan or $50 or more in Ram Cash purchased” throughout October.
The Dean of Students office also maintains partnerships with Circle of Hope, a non-profit based in Needham that provides help to the homeless, and Dignity Matters, a non-profit that provides feminine hygiene products to homeless girls and women, both of which donate supplies to the RRC.
Outside of donations to the RRC, Arielle Brent, assistant director and orientation coordinator for new student and family programs and volunteer co-coordinator of the RRC, suggested that students could use social media to “promote any actions they are taking to help their community.”
Kastner said there has been a decrease in the number of students requesting access to the RRC this fall.
“A lot of students are off campus or far away from campus, and most of the classes are remote, so I expect the utilization will be less this semester than it has been in previous semesters,” she said.
Kastner added, “Having to set up an appointment instead of just being able to walk in I think has been a challenge for people this semester.”