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Waysmeet expands food pantry services to students

The Cornucopia Food Pantry has been in operation at The Waysmeet Center since 1997, but has gone through significant changes recently, according to Reverend Larry Brickner-Wood, the chaplain and executive director of the Waysmeet Center, and United Campus Ministry to the University of New Hampshire.

“It’s nothing like it was — it was really small,” he said.

According to Brickner-Wood, in its early days, the pantry would serve just five to six people on average and rarely had more than one or two volunteers at a time. Today, both the volume and types of food has greatly increased and changed, including the addition of meat and dairy, and the ability for the center to serve up to a hundred people at a time.

Besides the changes to the size and scope of this charitable organization, The Waysmeet Center has now officially added an additional day of operation specifically for UNH students. Wednesdays from 4 to 5 p.m., UNH students can visit the pantry and get free food, free of judgment.

On a typical day, the pantry sees over 20 volunteers, including both UNH students and community members that help out with the daily tasks.

Courtesy of Larry Brickner-Wood
(Left to right) Nutrition intern Helayne Speroni, Larry Brickner-Wood and first year student Sarah Dramstad volunteer in the Waysmeet.

“Although it is a little known resource, it’s a place where students can get food no questions asked and no judgments,” senior nutrition and ecogastronomy major and volunteer at the food pantry, Vanessa Croteau, said.  “It connects the community with not only food, but fresh food that would otherwise be thrown away, which is really unique for a food pantry.”

“We believe in the theory of abundance,” Brickner-Wood said. At the food pantry, the volunteers do not ask the patrons where they are from or how often they come.

According to Brickner-Wood, they serve people from 13 different towns in the surrounding area and of course individuals from the UNH campus.

Brickner-Wood, who has been at Waysmeet for 14 years and is committed to helping the community, said that Martin Luther King Jr. [MLK] has been an inspiration to him and his work.

“[MLK] certainly inspired me. He moved me in a way by saying we all have a place in making the world a better place,” Brickner-Wood said. “The world can always be better than it is today.”

“[Brickner-Wood] does so much for the community. He has too many roles to elaborate on, but he enriches the community with his zest for life and passion for helping others every day,” Croteau said.

As for the future of the pantry, Brickner-Wood shared that he is working with a group of students from UNH to bring a table to the Memorial Union Building (MUB) once a week where they can give away free food to students and inform them about the resources offered through The Waysmeet Center. He also would love to see an expansion of involvement between the pantry and student organizations, as well as increasing storage space.

“The pantry would not exist without the students. It changes so much when the students come back [from winter and summer breaks],” Brickner-Wood said. “They bring the warmth, compassion and kindness with them and I feel it when I watch how the students treat the customer.”

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