Rex’s Pantry Garden Grows

This June, AIC’s Rex’s Pantry initiative, a food and necessities pantry housed on campus, introduced the Rex’s Pantry Garden, a new program to serve the surrounding neighborhoods of Springfield. Approximately sixteen thousand Springfield residents live in a produce desert, where there is little to no access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods. Rex’s Pantry Garden seeks to alleviate this problem. With the support of AIC President Vince Maniaci, the Rex’s Pantry initiative was spearheaded by AIC’s Vice President for Marketing and Communications Robert Cole, in partnership with Jeff Bednarz ’19, AIC’s associate vice president for auxiliary services.

Rex's Pantry Garden's dedicated volunteers
Rex’s Pantry Garden’s dedicated volunteers include (from left) Field Hockey Head Coach Rhonwen Peters, Assistant Women’s Soccer Coach Stephanie Gordon, AIC student Elliana Stevens, Day Information Literacy Librarian Nancy Little, Director of Graduate Admissions Hannah Hartzsch, and Registrar Pamela Robinson.

“I am proud to work with such an altruistic group of colleagues to build on the success of Rex’s Pantry and address what is a very real concern in Springfield,” says Cole. “Food insecurities have, unfortunately, long been a way of life for many families and individuals around the world. The Rex’s Pantry Garden is one small way AIC endeavors to help those in need.”

Volunteers from C&W Services, which provides grounds crew services to the College, helped transform the formerly vacant lot at the corner of Maynard and State Streets into a functioning urban garden.

The Rex’s Pantry Garden’s inaugural fall harvest included bush beans, pumpkins, red onions, swiss chard, and tomatoes. Staff and student volunteers will maintain the garden during the growing season.

Since it launched, Rex’s Pantry has supplied more than two thousand meals to the less fortunate in Springfield and collected thousands of pounds of canned goods and other living necessities.

IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, REX!

The dedicated and professional C&W Services staff members
The dedicated and professional C&W Services staff members responsible for the creation and ongoing tending of Rex’s Pantry Garden (from left): Pablo Perez, Lee Latham, Stefan Kollmeier, and Matt McLeod.

A class of third grade students from nearby Homer Street Elementary School visited the Rex’s Pantry Garden pumpkin patch, sponsored by C&W Services, on October 9, 2019. Each student got to “pick” his or her own pumpkin to use as part of a fall-themed math lesson before bringing it home with them at the end of the day.

thank you cards
Third grade students from Homer Street Elementary School sent handmade thank-you cards to the many AIC faculty, staff, and students who helped make the Rex’s Pantry Garden pumpkin patch event a success.

Afterwards, volunteers from C&W Services delivered the remaining pumpkins to Homer Street Elementary School to ensure that students in all three third grade classes received one. In total, AIC provided more than one hundred pumpkins to students.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, Hon ’16 and President Vince Maniaci both participated in the festivities alongside a number of AIC staff and students.

Attendees at the Rex’s Pantry Garden pumpkin patch event
Attendees at the Rex’s Pantry Garden pumpkin patch event (from left): C&W Services staff members Pablo Perez and Lee Latham, C&W Services Director of Facilities at AIC Garrett Dillon, AIC Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Services Jeff Bednarz, C&W Services staff members Stefan Kollmeier and Matt McLeod, and C&W Services Assistant Director of Facilities at AIC Andrew Wagner.

View Full Gallery