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SRU Creates Food Pantry After Data Shows 40 Percent Of Students Are “Food Insecure”

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Dining halls and delivery pizza are part of the college experience as much as lecture halls and textbooks, but for some Slippery Rock University students, access to food might not be as easy as it is for most of their classmates.

According to a recent Slippery Rock Student Government Association survey, nearly 40 percent of SRU students have experienced either not knowing when they will have access to food or are aware of fellow students who have been insecure about accessing food. In response, the SGA has established the SGA Food Pantry.

“What we got back (from the survey) was surprising,” said Scott Vogelgesang, a senior communication major from South Lake Tahoe, California, and SGA vice president of student and academic affairs. “There are students on campus who don’t know when they are going to get access to food.”

The National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness reported 48 percent of college students across the country are food insecure. Most students don’t qualify for assistance from community food banks because student loans are often counted as income despite that money being used for tuition.

To create the food pantry, SGA is collecting nonperishable food items now through May 5 in six donation bins: three in the Smith Student Center and one each in Boozel Dining Hall, the Aebersold Student Recreation Center and Bailey Library. Beginning fall 2018, the SGA Food Pantry will be accessible at the Macoskey Center for Sustainability Systems Education and Research. Vogelgesang said the Macoskey Center was selected by SGA’s Student Affairs Committee because it is a lower-traffic area and thus might eliminate possible stress and embarrassment that students who need to visit the pantry may feel.
While many colleges and universities have started student food pantries, the SGA pantry will be unique in that students will have access to fresh eggs and vegetables produced at the Macoskey Center, while center staff will be available to teach students self-sufficiency techniques, such as growing their own lettuce, which can be done even in an apartment.

“This allows us to pair the pantry with sustainability efforts,” Wilmes said. “So not only are we helping students with their short-term food needs but educating them on how to improve their self-sufficiency for the long term.”

The food pantry will open on campus beginning this fall.