BGSU student awarded national service prize for work with Falcon Food Pantry
Graduate student Lorenzo Zamora wins 2022 Nachman Justice Award for his commitment to fighting food insecurity on campus
For Lorenzo Zamora ’21, the best part of working with the Falcon Food Pantry is the connection he makes with others.
As a Bowling Green State University master’s student and graduate assistant at the food pantry, Zamora’s work breaking down boxes, organizing shelves and keeping track of inventory is not always glamorous – but its tangible benefits are visible each time a student experiencing food insecurity starts a visit with a warm greeting and returns home with a bag of food.
“Food insecurity is a really sad issue, but I don’t want anyone who is experiencing it to feel bleak,” Zamora said. “I’m there just to help if people need it. It’s nice for students to have, and I want them to feel welcome and to be happy when they’re at Falcon Food Pantry.”
Recognition was not the reason that Zamora committed his time to the Falcon Food Pantry, but nonetheless, his efforts have earned a nationwide award dedicated to college students at the forefront of fighting food insecurity on campus.
Zamora became one of just three students nationally selected as a winner of the 2022 Nachman Justice Award from Swipe Out Hunger, a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to combat food insecurity among college students.
In return for being selected as a winner, Zamora received a $1,000 prize earmarked for college expenses like tuition, housing and books.
“Lorenzo never asks for glory and recognition, which is one reason I’m so happy that he won this huge, national award,” said Dr. Shannon Orr, a BGSU professor of political science and the faculty director of the Falcon Food Pantry.
“He has great people skills, he’s very organized and he never hesitates to jump in and get things done. A lot of food pantry work is not glamorous, but he never hesitates.”
Zamora, who is from nearby Napoleon, Ohio, graduated from BGSU with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He is now pursuing his Master of Public Administration degree with a focus on nonprofits.
His work with the Falcon Food Pantry – which is open to anyone with a BGSU ID to use once per week to select a bag of food and hygiene items – has allowed Zamora to accumulate valuable experience with a nonprofit outfit while also accomplishing public good on campus.
Though food insecurity can be an issue that flies under the radar, students going to school full time often experience some level of uncertainty when it comes to filling their cupboards.
“I was here during the pandemic and it became very obvious that people were struggling, especially the international students who got stuck here,” Zamora said. “College can be a hard time because we can’t make a lot of money since we’re going to school, so it can be tough to keep up with bills and food costs.”
One of the key issues with confronting food insecurity is the stigma associated with it. Oftentimes, people in need – especially students – are hesitant to visit a food pantry and seek assistance.
A foundational belief at the Falcon Food Pantry is that anyone who visits is treated with kindness when they walk through the doors.
“When you walk into our pantry, there’s just this warmth and caring for every student who comes in,” Orr said. “Our goal is for every student to feel welcome and everyone gets thanked for coming, and I think Lorenzo just has the perfect personality to work so well with all our clients.”
While winning the Nachman Justice Award is an honor, Zamora said connecting with people at the Falcon Food Pantry is what he enjoys most.
“It’s really nice to talk to people and feel at the end of the day that you’ve actually helped someone,” Zamora said.
The Falcon Food Pantry’s hours for the spring semester are noon to 3 p.m. Mondays, 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays and noon to 3 p.m. on Thursdays in Central Hall 109. Additionally, the Jerome Library has bags of food for students in need who cannot visit the food pantry in person.
Updated: 01/18/2023 11:16AM