Many colleges throughout the United States are opening on-campus food pantries. Wilkes University has recently joined this movement to combat hunger among college students.
“The concept of a food pantry came to fruition about two years ago when there was a budget impasse roughly two years ago in Harrisburg,” Megan Boone, coordinator of student development said.
Since students were not receiving the loans they needed to afford groceries and books, the Wilkes Food Pantry was created to supplement food insecurity. Food security is when someone is without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of nutritious food.
The university is a “food desert,” meaning that there are not any grocery stores within walking distance that are substantial enough for students to purchase quality groceries, according to Catherine Conte, student development graduate assistant.
With the new addition of the food pantry, students will now have access to groceries at their fingertips. The pantry is located on the second floor of the Student Union Building in the Interfaith Office. Tentatively, it will be open after regular hours from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Students can fill out a form for the items they are taking with their WIN number. This will help keep track of what items need to be replenished. Utilizing the WIN number and non-traditional business hours allows students to remain as anonymous as possible.
Researchers have found that one in four college students is hungry, according to Medline Plus. (https://medlineplus.gov/)
“With growing awareness of the level of food insecurity amongst our students and even their families, we would never want a student to have to choose between books or food or even medication or food,” Boone and Conte said in an email.
“Supplementing food to our students and families in need is something we as Wilkes University can afford to do.”
Both Boone and Conte understand how costly tuition is. Many students are also employed at a place of work full-time or part-time while attending college.
“If we can alleviate an added stress, food is the best thing we can provide at very low/to no cost,” Boone and Conte said.
Besides food, the pantry also stocks personal care items such as feminine hygiene products, laundry detergent, dental care and shampoo and conditioner.
It is entirely comprised of donations. The pantry accepts any items that are not open or expired.
If you are interested in volunteering to help organize the food pantry or wish you to donate some items, please contact Catherine Conte at [email protected]
The Wilkes Food Pantry is also currently in search of a clever name that reflects the “Be Colonel” lifestyle here at the University. If you have any suggestions, please contact Megan Boone at [email protected]
Every year, National Hunger and Homelessness week is held prior to Thanksgiving. In lieu of this movement, Wilkes encourages to spread awareness by talking about food insecurity and the pantry. If students wish to volunteer in the local community during this season of giving thanks, they can contact the Saint Vincent DePaul Soup Kitchen (570) 829-7796 or the Commission on Economic Opportunity at (570) 826-0510.
“If you want to eliminate hunger, everybody has to be involved,” Paul Hewson, co-founder of the ONE campaign said.