Associate Professor Anna Haley, Assistant Professor Emmy Tiderington, and Senior Project Coordinator Adam Staats have been selected as a members of the Chancellor’s Taskforce on Student Essential Needs, a new initiative aiming to address food insecurity among Rutgers University’s student population.
Chancellor Christopher Molloy announced that the taskforce was formed in response to overwhelming data suggesting that the University needs to take steps to ensure its students have stable access to food. In a 2016 study, Dr. Cara Cuite of Rutgers’ School of Environmental and Biological Sciences found that more than a third of Rutgers students experience food insecurity. “This taskforce will examine the issues and barriers that impede students from maximizing their academic and co-curricular pursuits at Rutgers University,” Chancellor Molloy said. “These issues include, but are not limited to, having access to food, financial resources, housing, and mental health services.”
Dr. Haley's research focuses on low-wage or "working poverty" jobs in for-profit, nonprofit, and public settings, including retail stores, restaurants, long-term care facilities, domestic violence services programs, the U.S. Postal Service, and occupations disproportionately held by vulnerable groups of workers such as women and primary or sole family caregivers. Her work informs social work practice by identifying “upstream” strategies for changing workplaces and public employment policies to promote worker, family, and community economic and social well-being.
Dr. Tiderington’s research interests include housing and supportive services for homeless populations with complex needs; frontline service provision in homeless services; and mental health and substance abuse recovery in individuals with a history of homelessness.
Staats is a School of Social Work alumnus and a longtime advocate for young people. He is currently the Senior Project Coordinator of the Institute for Families’ Price Family Fellows Program, a support program for students entering the University from the foster care system. The program provides these students with housing and food stipends, access to laptops and textbooks, research internships, and supportive coaching aimed at academic, personal and professional development. Staats was chosen for the taskforce in recognition of his research, leadership, and contributions to potentially vulnerable student populations.
The University has already taken immediate steps to address the issue, such as establishing the Rutgers Student Food Pantry and partnering with the Rutgers Gardens to offer fresh produce. Additionally, the University has worked with local food banks such as the College and University Food Bank Alliance (CUFBA), Feeding New Brunswick Network, Community Foodbank of New Jersey, and the Middlesex County Food Organization and Outreach Distribution Services (MCFOODS).