Mobile Food Pantry provides resources and awareness to students
Contributor: Tiffany Smith, PUSH coordinator and dietetics major
One in seven Americans struggle with food insecurity. The state of being without a reliable source of affordable and nutritious food is a reality for far too many college students and Bowling Green State University is no exception. Presidents United to Solve Hunger (PUSH) is a nationwide initiative to solve hunger on college campuses. Created by Universities Fighting World Hunger (UFWH), nearly 90 university presidents have signed the PUSH initiative vowing to prioritize nutrition security on campuses and making the initiative a core value of higher education institutions worldwide.
In 2015, President Mary Ellen Mazey, Ph.D. signed the President’s Commitment to Food and Nutrition Security and charged the Center for Community and Civic Engagement to act as the convener for campus and community activities designed to address hunger and food insecurity issues in our region and beyond, engaging the intellectual, human, and teaching and research expertise of BGSU to the PUSH action areas: inventory and mapping, teaching, research, outreach and student engagement.
“Nationwide 13-14% of people deal with food insecurity,” coordinator for undergraduate dietetics in food and nutrition Carrie Hamady said. “Anywhere from 20-50% of college students can be impacted.”
PUSH, in conjunction with The Center for Community and Civic Engagement, had the opportunity to bring the Food for Thought mobile pantry on campus in efforts to alleviate some of the financial burdens that students are facing. The pantry was on campus last October and November. The October pantry was in the Jerome Parking lot, while the second Food for Thought mobile pantry’s location was changed last-minute due to the weather to the College of Health and Human Services lobby.
“In total, 168 people, the majority being students, were able to benefit from the services provided by the mobile pantries,” PUSH coordinator and dietetics major Tiffany Smith said. “Students were able to shop the pantry for food including fresh produce and nonperishables, and received helpful materials on how to eat healthy on a budget. They also learned how to get connected to local and campus resources, and become involved with combatting food insecurity.
With the successful efforts of #GivingTuesday, PUSH was able to raise over $800 which translates into three pantries during the spring semester. PUSH has a goal to have even more resources available to students, whether they need food or just some healthy recipes that will not break the bank.