BY: RANDALL MOSSMAN
Most college students have heard of the “Freshman 15,” where new students tend to gain weight. However, many do not stop to think about the opposite: college students who go hungry.
Food insecurity is a huge problem across college campuses nationwide. At any time, hundreds, if not thousands of students on a given campus could be struggling to find an adequate amount of food.
Anne Drake, of the Office of Disability Support Services, was a major voice in IU South Bend creating its food pantry, appropriately named “Titans Feeding Titans.” “Food insecurity is a very real thing,” Drake said. “It hits all walks of life.”
The pantry, located in room 114 of the Student Activities Center, has been open since February. In the seven months it has been operating, Drake estimates that it has been able to meet food security needs for around 75 people per month. It is open to all students and staff, as well as people within the community.
Worrying about lack of food is a major barrier that obstructs students from reaching their academic potential. When students are unsure of where their next meal will come from, that is a major stressor hanging over their head.
“If you’re worried or concerned about having enough to eat, it’s going to affect your academics,” Drake said. “If we can help alleviate part of that stress, then that’s what we want to do.”
Despite offering some invaluable assistance, many people are embarrassed to admit that they need the help. “It’s hard for people to come to a food pantry and ask for help,” Drake said. “It can be a humbling experience.”
Though its current space in an old concession area is discreet enough to protect the privacy of its users, Drake said they are actively looking for a new space to relocate the pantry to. “We would like to grow the pantry,” Drake said. “Our goal this year is to try and find a bigger place on campus.”
This comes in response to many students who say they wished the pantry could provide dairy and frozen products, as well as fresh produce. Currently, the pantry is only able to offer non-perishable food items, such as canned goods, as well as baby food, hygiene products and household cleaning supplies. “Being able to distribute some fresher, healthier foods is important as well,” Drake said.
Because the pantry meets such critical needs of many people, Drake stressed the importance of letting people know that the pantry is here. “We want more and more people to be aware that the pantry’s there,” Drake said. “We’re trying to find ways to get the word out.”
Drake said that the Alumni Association has approached the pantry about the idea of doing some fundraisers throughout this academic year. “They’ve got some really good fundraising ideas they’re going to implement,” Drake said. The pantry also plans to set up tables in Wiekamp Hall during the month of October to raise awareness for Hunger Awareness Month. Drake said that they are also working on creating a student club for the pantry.
Drake said the pantry has been fortunate in that people have been continually donating. However, despite this, there is always a need for more items. The items that the pantry currently needs the most are: coffee, peanut butter, soup and cereal.
Donations to the pantry can be made in several ways. There is a box located by the check-in desk in the SAC, as well as in the social work department. People wishing to donate food or cash may also directly contact Drake at firstname.lastname@example.org. People wanting to volunteer at the pantry or join the club are also encouraged to contact Drake.
The pantry is also on Facebook at “Titans Feeding Titans.” Their hours are: Monday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday from 10 a.m.to 2 p.m., and 3 to 6 p.m., and Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.