SUNY Funding Supports Renzi Food Pantry and Mental Health at SUNY Canton


A recent round of funding provided by the State University of New York is helping the college combat food insecurity and address the mental health of SUNY Canton students.

The college recently received $33,400 for its Renzi Food Pantry and $250,000 for mental health support through SUNY’s Transformation Fund. The new investments were immediately put to good use, according to Melinda Miller, the college’s director of counseling. Miller said that the two initiatives work in tandem to assist students who are struggling.

Three student workers assemble an order from the college’s Renzi Food Pantry.
Renzi Food Pantry – Pictured (l to r) are: Anastazia Graham, a SUNY Canton Forensic Criminology major from the Bronx; Jaden Muniz, a Veterinary Technology major from the Bronx; and Elizabeth M. Carrera, a Veterinary Technology major from Rocky Point. The three student workers assembled an order from the college’s Renzi Food Pantry.

“If you're not sleeping and eating properly, your mental health isn't going to be doing very well for one second,” Miller said. “We try to do everything we can to remove any barriers that students may have when they come to college.”

The funding helped staff restock and expand its food pantry, which typically operates on donations given to the Student Emergency Fund overseen by the Canton College Foundation. Miller said they were purchasing new shelving to hold the products, implementing an inventory control system with barcode scanners to track resources, and hiring additional student staffing to fulfill the confidential orders.

Elizabeth Carrera restocks the refrigerator in the college’s Renzi Food Pantry
More Milk – Elizabeth M. Carrera, a SUNY Canton Veterinary Technology Center from Rocky Point, restocks the refrigerator in the college’s Renzi Food Pantry.

“We're currently working on an application for the Central New York Food Bank of America,” Miller said. “Once we become a member, we can purchase food, and they could deliver it right here on campus once a month, which would allow us to do more community outreach.”

Last fall, the college gave away 565 bags of food, personal care products, and other supplies people might not be able to afford. During the spring semester, they delivered approximately 140 bags. Miller explained that high grocery prices had driven up need as she assembled a two-bag order for someone that would have cost more than $100 in stores.

In addition to non-perishable food items, the college also receives produce from Riverview Correctional Facility’s Horticulture Program, which is tremendously popular among the entire campus community. The Renzi Food Pantry also has a supply of coats, hats, and gloves for students.

The $250,000 came in line with SUNY’s overall expansion to support mental health programs across the entire system. It allowed SUNY Canton to add a new employee and implement software to aid in early identification, case management, and support of students with mental health concerns. It also supported new equipment, professional training for campus staff, and on-campus mental health programming.

“We are deeply appreciative of the financial commitment SUNY has made for our mental health services and food pantry, as these are growing needs that affect students' ability to be successful,” said Courtney B. Bish, vice president for student affairs and dean of students. “Through the funding, we can provide resource-rich trainings, access to supports for students and grow the offerings in our Renzi Food Pantry. These are all invaluable to students and truly set them on a path toward success.”

SUNY Canton named the on-campus food pantry to honor Watertown’s Renzi family following a multi-year gift from the Renzi Foodservice Charitable Foundation in 2020.

About SUNY Canton

As Northern New York's premier college for career-driven bachelor's degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs, SUNY Canton delivers quality hands-on programs in engineering technology, management, and healthcare fields. It is home to the Center for Criminal Justice, Intelligence and Cybersecurity. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY's leader in online education, SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 23 online degree programs. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos 15 traditional athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference. SUNY Canton also features varsity esports and cheerleading.