Among studying, maintaining social lives and mental health, another concern for many college students is the location of their next meal. As a way of aiding struggling and hungry students, the Northwestern State University Food Pantry program was created in April 2015.
The College and University Food Bank Alliance found that 30% of college students are food insecure, NBC news reported in December.
According to program coordinator and Assistant Professor of Social Work Denise Bailey, the pantry is an on-campus resource readily available to meet student needs weekly.
“The weekly item limits are as follows: four canned vegetables and fruits, two canned meats, three packaged meals, four soups, four bottles of water, two snacks and four breakfast items,” Bailey said. “In addition, students may receive two personal care items.”
Although the pantry was created to help students, many are unaware of its existence.
Bailey estimated that only about 50 students use the pantry each week.
Junior nursing major Layla Easley said the food pantry is a really great campus resource that she used a lot her sophomore year.
“I was constantly getting fruits and vegetables from there,” Easley said. “The pantry helped me out a lot.”
Director of First Year Experience and Leadership Development Reatha Cox said details regarding the program are shared during Freshman Connection, on campus tours, and at other first year and student experience presentations.
“Information about the NSU Food Pantry and services provided to our students is also shared with the local news outlets, which often leads to donors supporting the program,” Cox said. “Student volunteers who work at the pantry also share social media posts.”
According to Cox, student volunteers are also working on new pantry programs, some of which include recipe cards and grab and go snacks, as other campus organizations work towards writing grants for enhancing the program.
With the pantry open almost 40 hours a week it is “always in need of complete meals–pasta, tuna, dried beans, etc.,” Cox said.
The NSU Food Pantry is on Central Avenue across from Magale Hall and is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to noon Friday.
To donate to the pantry visit the NSU alumni website.
Donors can also drop off items for the pantry in the Watson Memorial Library foyer, and the social work department faculty suite on the third floor of Kyser.