EWU introduces food pantries to end student hunger
CHENEY, Wash. — Parents send their kids to college, hoping they will get a great education, but some of those students have more pressing concerns, like where they will get their next meal.
Now, Eastern Washington University is trying to end the problem of student hunger, introducing new food pantries all around campus.
Tuesday, the campus held a kickoff party for the new pantries and it included a pop up food pantry by 2nd Harvest. 2nd Harvest will be stocking the pantries around EWU.
In 2016, EWU conducted a survey, which found one-third of its students are what is called “food insecure.”
“They didn’t have enough money for food, didn’t know when they were going to have money for food,” said Brian Davenport, the director of the Office Of Community Engagement.
Students say that’s a scary situation to find themselves in.
“I ran out of bread, I ran out of fruit, and I’m waiting for my payday. So, seeing this, it’s just a huge blessing,” said Alyssa Silvernail, a Sophomore at EWU.
The new food pantries come from a partnership between the university and several organizations, including the Dairy Farmers of Washington and 2nd Harvest. The Dairy Farmers of Washington provided a $10,000 scholarship to get the program running.
And EWU decided to operate these pantries a little different than people might expect. Instead of one central location, the school has six pantries around campus, put in locations in public, but out of sight.
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“Because they’re in public, but not prominent locations, students can access the food pantry when it’s convenient for them. They can self-identify, they can wait until folks aren’t around. They don’t have to go in and show someone, ‘hey I need help,'” Davenport said.
School leaders say they want to end the stigma associated with students who need help.
“There are students that don’t have enough money for food. And that’s okay. And if you need help, that’s okay. Take what you need,” said Davenport.
Kayla Martinez is the campus’ community outreach coordinator and was instrumental in helping get the pantries up and running. She says she graduated from college only about a year ago and understands what students are going through.
“I was a hungry college student, my friends were hungry college students. Usually it’s not seen as that serious of an issue. It kind of became a joke within our country to be hungry college students,” Martinez said.
For students who are living through their hunger, this is no laughing matter.
“I personally have zero food at my house right now, cause I just work and pay for college. It’s a lot. So, food sometimes is hard to bring onto the table,” said Silvernail.
She says now this will be one less thing she has to worry about.
“Super huge relief, cause I was focusing on this Friday, which is payday and I was struggling to figure out what I was going to eat this week. So, this was super helpful,” Silvernail said.
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