Valdosta Daily Times

National, International News

December 25, 2012

Student food banks fight hunger on campus

COLUMBIA, Mo. — University of Missouri junior Simone McGautha works three campus jobs and has accumulated $11,000 in student loans as she seeks to become the first in her family with a college degree. So when McGautha learned about a new campus food pantry for needy students, the 19-year-old was happy to have the help.

“I use every bit of money I have for basic needs,” the Kansas City native said. “I don’t have family putting money in my bank account. If somebody wants to help, why not?”

The student-run Tiger Pantry is among a growing number of programs at university campuses. Organizers say it’s both a response to a weak economy and a sign of the latest trend in student activism.

The pantry, which opened in early October, is within easy walking distance of the University of Missouri’s campus in Columbia. It has given free food to nearly 150 people and their families, and an additional 100 people have expressed an interest. Food recipients include nearly three dozen graduate students and a similar number of university employees, as well as a handful of professors.

Student organizers modeled the program on a similar effort at the University of Arkansas known as the Full Circle Food Pantry. As a sanctioned organization, the Tiger Pantry receives some money from student fees but primarily relies on donated food. Students can drop off donations in large bins around campus, and the local food pantry provided 2,500 pounds of food to help the Tiger Pantry get started.

The University of Mississippi and Auburn University are also starting campus food pantries, joining schools such as Central Florida, Georgia, Iowa State, Oregon State and West Virginia. The University of California Los Angeles deploys “economic crisis response” teams that assist students struggling to pay bills and rent or who live on the streets.

Campus organizers estimate at least 20 schools have similar programs, with even more interested in joining the effort.

At the Tiger Pantry, users are limited to monthly visits, and the amount of their bounty depends on family size. But they don’t have to prove that they’re struggling financially.

The Auburn food pantry is part of a broader anti-hunger campaign that includes an international hunger research institute that is a collaboration with the United Nations World Food Programme, an international hunger research institute. A student-driven “War on Hunger” campaign launched in 2004 has spread to more than 200 universities worldwide, the school says.

“It’s a moral imperative of a land-grant institution to improve the quality of life,” said Harriett Giles, the hunger institute’s managing director. “That’s our mission.”

Precise statistics measuring the extent of student and staff hunger are elusive, Giles and other supporters of such efforts acknowledge. Campus administrators also are cautious that the food bank projects embraced by a current crop of do-gooders don’t become dormant if the next generation of student leaders fails to share those passions.

“The university wants us to prove the need of the pantry first,” said Missouri’s food bank director Paul Haluszczak, a St. Peters junior.

Peggy Kirkpatrick, executive director of the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri, said more people are using food pantries generally. She said her regional group serves nearly 13,000 people each month, compared with fewer than 8,000 just four years ago — a 63 percent increase.

Kilpatrick was among the early skeptics of the student effort, though now she’s an ally, with the regional group providing help to the Tiger Pantry

“I didn’t want it to be a novelty, then when these students graduate, who carries it on?” she said. “I was putting up roadblocks, making sure it was legit.”

Kaitlyn Kelly, a senior animal science major from Blue Springs, has used the Tiger Pantry from the start. So does her boyfriend. Kelly has cashed childhood savings bonds and other investments to help pay for college. She also has wheat allergies, making her food choices more difficult and more costly.

“I can’t just go out and buy a box of ramen noodles,” she said. “Eating for me is pretty hard, and expensive.”

Kelly said she isn’t ashamed or embarrassed about seeking help, but she realizes some of her peers might consider relying on the pantry a stigma. That’s why the Tiger Pantry, like its counterparts on other campuses, is located off-the-beaten track and provides its groceries in generic, unlabeled shopping bags.

“I need help. So I’m not going to refuse it,” she said. “There are plenty of students who could use this. This whole program is a godsend.”

1
Text Only
National, International News
  • Mideast Iraq_Rich copy.jpg Iraq elects new president amid attacks

    Iraqi lawmakers elected a veteran Kurdish politician on Thursday to replace long-serving Jalal Talabani as the country’s new president in the latest step toward forming a new government. But a series of attacks killed dozens of people and Islamic militants destroyed a Muslim shrine traditionally said to be the burial place of the Prophet Jonah, underscoring the overwhelming challenges facing the divided nation.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hong Kong Shutdown_Rich copy.jpg Hong Kong firms on edge as blockade looms

    As activists vow to shut down Hong Kong’s financial district in protest at China’s attempt to hobble democratic elections in the city, businessman Bernard Chan is preparing for the worst.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mideast Israel Palest_Rich copy.jpg UN school in Gaza caught in cross-fire; 15 killed

    A U.N. school in Gaza crowded with hundreds of Palestinians seeking refuge from fierce fighting came under fire Thursday, killing at least 15 civilians and leaving a sad tableau of blood-spattered pillows, blankets and children’s clothing scattered in the courtyard.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP00072403324 copy.jpg Today in History for Friday, July 25, 2014

    Today is Friday, July 25, the 206th day of 2014. There are 159 days left in the year.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rebels release train with bodies from downed jet

    Bowing to international pressure, pro-Moscow separatists released a train packed with bodies and handed over the black boxes from the downed Malaysia Airlines plane, four days after it plunged into rebel-held eastern Ukraine.

    July 22, 2014

  • Gaza death toll rises as truce effort intensifies

    A high-level attempt by the U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state to end deadly Israel-Hamas fighting was off to a rough start Monday: Gaza’s Hamas rulers signaled they won’t agree to an unconditional cease-fire, Israel’s prime minister said he’ll do whatever is necessary to keep Israelis safe from Hamas attacks and the overall Palestinian death toll surpassed 560.

    July 22, 2014

  • AP110722023493 copy.jpg Today in History for Tuesday, July 22, 2014

    Today is Tuesday, July 22, the 203rd day of 2014. There are 162 days left in the year.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Western Wildfires_Rich copy.jpg Helpful weather coming to Washington wildfires

    Cooler temperatures and lighter winds are forecast to descend on wildfire-stricken Washington state, helping firefighters battle flames that have been growing unfettered for a week and have covered hundreds of square miles.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Today in History for Monday, July 21, 2014

    Today is Monday, July 21, the 202nd day of 2014. There are 163 days left in the year.

    July 21, 2014

  • James Garner Obit_Rich(1) copy.jpg Film, TV legend James Garner, reluctant hero, dies

    Few actors could register disbelief, exasperation or annoyance with more comic subtlety.
    James Garner had a way of widening his eyes while the corner of his mouth sagged ever so slightly. Maybe he would swallow once to further make his point.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

School starts again in about two weeks. What do you think?

It's still summer. School starts too soon.
Seems like the right time to return.
Abolish summer recess. Make school year-round.
     View Results