Food Pantry accessible to all UNH students to open on campus
Being a “broke student” is a well-known joke and a rite of passage for college students, but the reality is that many students struggle every day to meet their basic nutritional needs.
The University of New Hampshire (UNH) is taking action to address food insecurity among its student body and the Seacoast area.
“I personally find it unacceptable that we have students here on our beautiful campus, in this place that we all love, who are hungry,” said Joan Glutting, associate professor of clinical psychology and member of the student’s basic needs committee at the University. ‘A H. “We have a student body that is even less likely to realize that it’s having a hard time, and if it does, it thinks, ‘Well, maybe someone else is struggling. [more]. ‘ We need to move forward to the students rather than waiting for them to ask us to.
In a recent survey of 2,000 UNH students last spring, 20% said they skipped at least one meal because they couldn’t afford it, while 15% said they would use a pantry if there was one on campus.
UNH has the Swipe It Forward program, which provides free meals in mess halls, but Glutting explained that the Basic Needs Committee felt it was important to have a program for commuters, graduate students, or anyone else. who cannot access the dining halls. The pantry will also have baby food for family students.
However, students with meal plans can still access the pantry. The only requirement is that students must log in (this can be done anonymously) and present a UNH ID.
“We are aware that if we restrict [the pantry] to try and minimize the people who could potentially abuse it, there’s no way we won’t turn away the people who genuinely need the resource, ”explained Paul Young, an AmeriCorps VISTA worker brought to UNH via a federal / state partnership to help address food insecurity. Gutting and Young stressed the importance for all students to have “nutritious, culturally sensitive (halal, kosher) and diverse access to food”.
In April, Young helped launch the Food Repurposing Project, a partnership between UNH Dining Services and Gather, a Portsmouth-based Seacoast pantry and food distribution network. During the pilot phase of the program, volunteers from the College of Life Sciences (COLSA), food services and assembly services met weekly to prepare ready-to-eat meals from unused food in the room. and donated items to distribute to local pantries. The team produced 200 to 300 meals per week. In addition to the redistribution of food, UNH also donated food from its Woodman research farm to Gather and other pantries.
“We absolutely love this partnership,” said Seneca Bernard, Associate Managing Director of Gather. He explained that one of Gather’s biggest challenges is his lack of kitchen space, as they don’t have their own building in Portsmouth, but they now have access to the facilities at UNH’s Bartman Hall. Bernard also expressed his enthusiasm for building relationships with UNH students.
“We knew that being able to partner and educate with the students, have them volunteer with us, but also learn skills that you will need in real life, like cooking a meal, would be a great opportunity. Many UNH students were already doing their best to work to volunteer with us over the past few years, ”he said.
Food in the UNH Pantry will be provided by UNH Dining Services, the New Hampshire Food Bank and Gather. The pantry will begin providing ready-to-eat meals with plans to expand snacks and essentials. Young also hopes to introduce courses and counseling resources to help students take advantage of UNH’s other support programs.
“These students usually have two or three jobs, they are also good students, and the reason they are food insecure or homeless is usually not a situation of their own,” said Gutting. “They are trying so hard to stay here, and we have to realize that they are working hard. If we can help them get through this bump, then we’ll all be better off because [they’re] the future.”
The Pantry will open later this semester on the first floor of the Memorial Union Building (MUB). Details on the programs offered by the Basic Needs Committee can be found here.