Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Social Justice Club Tackles Hunger at Capital Community College

Unemployed since 2010, Yvonne Duhaney understands the struggle many of her peers face. She and her now 14-year-old daughter signed up for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), but when she decided to start school full-time at Capital Community College, her assistance was cut. Purchasing enough food for them both on a SNAP budget had suddenly become much more challenging. Her mother passed away during her first semester, straining her resources even further.

None of this stopped Yvonne from achieving her degree in Social Work, which is quite remarkable. In fact, her experience inspired her to do even more for her community. During the summer of 2015, after completing all of her required hours for service learning, Yvonne decided to start a food pantry on campus. Professor Michelle White suggested that she institutionalize the project in the form of a student club, ensuring university support and providing space to operate her pantry.

Through a series of food & fundraisers, and word of mouth, the pantry’s popularity grew quickly, bringing in donations beyond food, including diapers and toiletries. Students outside of the social service realm got involved, and what began as one student’s passion slowly transitioned to a campus-wide Social Justice Club. But she worried about what would happen to Capital’s pantry once she left, and all those who came to rely on it.

After learning that previous attempts to sustain a school pantry had failed, Yvonne decided to remain at Capital post-graduation to ensure the survival of the program. Fortunately, a fellow classmate Kerry-Ann Campbell-Barrett stepped up to assume the role. Originally from Jamaica, Kerry-Ann viewed America as a “land of opportunity.” After volunteering with a local pantry (a Foodshare partner) she was shocked to learn that many Americans struggle with putting food on the table. Recognizing the harsh realities of life for so many of her new friends and neighbors, Kerry-Ann wanted to do more.

Kerry-Ann and Yvonne both agree that the next step is connecting pantry visitors, with additional resources. Hartford Rescue Mission is only a few blocks away, serving meals when the pantry is closed. There are Mobile Foodshare sites located within a few miles, providing fresh foods at no cost to those in need. And they hope that a partnership with Foodshare’s SNAP outreach team will soon connect many more students with stable support while they work towards a college degree.

Now that Yvonne has found other like-minded individuals who are capable of carrying on the legacy that she started, she feels confident pursuing her own future as a Social Worker.
  • The CCC pantry is open Mondays and Fridays from 10am-2pm. For more information contact Derrick Curry, Director of Student Activities, at (860) 906-5087. 
  • For more information about the Hartford Rescue Mission, visit
  • For more information about Mobile Foodshare, visit

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