On November 23, 2021, the students of the St. Peter’s Hospital College of Nursing donated 1,300 non-perishable food items to the pantry at Albany Stratton VA Medical Center.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a deadly toll on the United States, it also leaves countless Americans, especially veterans, in desperate need of care, shelter and food.
Albany Stratton VA Medical Center serves veterans in 22 counties in upstate New York, western Massachusetts and Vermont, providing them with clothing, food, meal vouchers, toiletries, gift cards and other comfort items. The need is expected to become even greater during the winter months, especially as cases of COVID-19 continue to increase.
Unlike last year, when veterans weren’t allowed into the pantry due to COVID restrictions, they are this year. While this is a good thing, as it ensures access to food, it has also led to increased reliance on donations. This, in turn, depleted the pantry stock, leaving the shelves almost empty.
Jennifer Moore, nurse in the emergency department of the Albany Stratton VA and chair of the Nursing 2 course at St. Peter’s Hospital College of Nursing (as well as the 2016 SPHP Nurse of the Year), took action l last year when she heard about the problem, rallying her students to start a food drive and stock the pantry shelves.
Recognizing the new challenges facing the pantry this year, the group began collecting items in October. The team – three of whom are Army and Navy veterans – collected the 1,300 non-perishable food items and then delivered them to the VA on Tuesday morning, ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Today’s nursing students, who have chosen nursing as a career in this uncertain era of COVID, are so admirable. When you look at the photo of them delivering, you can’t help but notice their smiles – they exude positivity and joy, and they truly live up to our mission and core values, ”said Moore. “What better way to develop this sense of selflessness and service in them than by recognizing and responding to this need? “
Moore says she and her students plan to make food drive an annual Thanksgiving tradition.