A Taste of Home Five Things to Send Your Kid in College in the Darkest Months of the Year

Now that the holidays are over and the wrapping paper put away, the last thing on your mind is probably sending gifts. But by now, your college student has returned to school – and we’re still hungry. Care packages are always welcome, regardless what time of the year it is. Especially care packages with food from regional farms or local businesses. Dining hall fatigue is real, and second semester is exactly when we quit the meal plan in favor of instant ramen. Here are some recommendations for items you can send by mail to your college student to improve their culinary experience at university and possibly save them from a lifetime addiction to ramen.

  1. Vinny’s Deli Marinara Sauce: If your child is lucky enough to have a dorm with a communal kitchen (or even better – their own private kitchen), chances are he or she will be making pasta. Dining hall pasta is definitely not the same. Why not send them a jar of Vinny’s Marinara Sauce to go with their pasta? You can pick up a jar at the store at 14 East Main Street for $7.49 each (or three for $18.00). On Amazon, they also sell for $34.95 for a 4-pack. For more information, please visit Vinny’s website at VinnysDeliandCatering.com; or call (845) 855-1922.

  1. North Winds Lavender Farm Shortbread Cookies: A cute little pouch of cookies is a welcome variation from the desserts served at the dining hall. Plus, they can be put on top of ice cream as an extra sweet treat. Add a sachet of lavender to the package as well, and your student will not only have their sweet tooth fulfilled, but they’ll also be less stressed. They can also mask the scent of dirty laundry in their room. A 4-ounce pack of cookies costs $4.00 and a pair of lavender-filled mini sachets also costs $3.00. There are handmade sachets that cost $10, made from wool from local Hudson Valley farms and a unique gift. You can pick these up at their store on 20 Charles Colman Blvd. or order online. For more information, visit the North Winds Lavender Farm website at NorthWindsLavenderFarm.com; or call (845) 216-8722.

  1. The Blue Olive Mission Fig Dark Balsamic Vinegar Condimento & Basil Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Another thing to add on pasta, but it also can be added to vegetables and salad to help fend off that freshman fifteen. These are two of the most popular products at The Blue Olive and can be ordered online. Visit the Blue Olive’s Pawling location in the village at 26 Colman Blvd. to sample a wide array of the shop’s seductively flavored oils, vinegars and salts. A 200ml bottle of the balsamic vinegar costs $9.99. A 200ml bottle of the olive oil will also cost $9.99. You can order these products online as well at TheBlueOliveShop.com. Call (845) 289-0097 for more information.

  1. Madava Farms Crown Maple Syrup: Many dining halls come equipped with waffle machines, and often they serve pancakes for breakfast. However, the toppings to these breakfast classics are unfortunately lacking, ranging from lukewarm, half-defrosted strawberries to expired mini packets of mass-market syrup. You can save your child from the pain of bad pancake toppings by sending fresh, locally produced maple syrup from Madava Farms! These can be ordered in different flavors, and there is a package of three small bottles (50mL each) that can come particularly in handy for college students. This package, called the Crown Maple Petite Trio, costs $15.95 and can be bought in the store at 47 McCourt Road, Dover Plains, NY, or can be ordered online at CrownMaple.com. Call (845) 877-0640 for more information.

  1. Rockerbox Garlic Spices: These spices come in handy for all sorts of meals, from pasta to omelets to stir-fries. They come in adorable little jars and can be sold in single packs or packs of three. They are extremely portable, so can also easily be sneaked into the dining hall without detection. My personal favorites are the garlic dust and sweet corn rub, but other good flavors include the fiesta mix, BBQ rub, black garlic dust, and many, many more. Rockerbox spices are available at The Blue Olive. You can also order a custom gift pack online for $12.00 at RockerboxGarlic.com. Or: email RockerboxGarlic@gmail.com for direct inquiries.

Bonus: While not mailable, the next time your college kid is home, try sending him or her off with a box of McKinney and Doyle cookies, fresh from the bakery. If you ask for a box with $5 worth of cookies, your child will not only be able to enjoy some sweet treats from home, but can also share with friends.

Of course, the Hudson Valley is home to many more amazing small businesses. Have a specific local product you love to share? Does your college student always ask for a certain item? Leave a comment on our Facebook page letting us know what you like to send your college student as a taste of home.

Disclaimer: Sending these items will not necessarily save your child from ramen.

Elisabeth Clemmons is a sophomore at Wellesley College.