Valdosta Daily Times

Top 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
Top News
  • Palestinian rivals to try again for unity deal

    Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah agreed Wednesday to form a unity government and hold new elections — a potentially historic step toward mending the rift that has split their people between two sets of rulers for seven years.

    April 24, 2014

  • Obama administration weighs clemency for inmates jailed for 10 years

    The Obama administration is encouraging many nonviolent federal prisoners to apply for early release — and expecting thousands to take up the offer.

    April 24, 2014

  • Earns Facebook_Stew.jpg Facebook 1Q results soar; CFO to step down

    Facebook’s earnings nearly tripled and revenue grew sharply in the first quarter, surpassing Wall Street’s expectations thanks to an 82 percent increase in advertising revenue.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Georgia Gun Bill_Stew.jpg Gun carry rights expanded in Ga. under new law

    Criticized by one group as the “guns everywhere” bill, Georgia took a big step Wednesday toward expanding where licensed carriers can take their weapons, with the governor signing a law that allows them in bars without restriction and in some churches, schools and government buildings under certain circumstances.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Clemson Spring Game F_Stew.jpg Clemson’s Swinney won’t change after complaint

    Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Wednesday he wouldn’t change procedures after the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s letter of complaint expressing concerns about the football program’s connection to the coach’s Christian religion.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Today in History

    In 1800, Congress approved a bill establishing the Library of Congress.

    April 24, 2014

  • Michigan affirmative ban is OK, Supreme Court says

    A state’s voters are free to outlaw the use of race as a factor in college admissions, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in a blow to affirmative action that also laid bare tensions among the justices about a continuing need for programs that address racial inequality in America.

    April 23, 2014

  • ‘Piles and piles’ of bodies in South Sudan slaughter

    Gunmen who targeted both children and the elderly left “piles and piles” of bodies — many of those in a mosque — in a provincial capital in South Sudan, the U.N.’s top humanitarian official in the country said Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014

  • Obama_Stew.jpg Obama views mudslide scene

    Swooping over a terrain of great sadness and death, President Barack Obama took an aerial tour Tuesday of the place where more than three dozen people perished in a mudslide last month, then mourned privately with those who lost loved ones in the destruction.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wall Street_Stew.jpg Earnings and corporate deals lift U.S. stocks

    Corporate deals and some solid earnings reports propelled the stock market to its sixth straight gain Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
Other
     View Results