Sycamore Pantry: working to reduce food insecurity for ISU students

According to a report from the Wisconsin Hope Lab, 36-percent of college students are food insecure.

Posted: Jan 15, 2020 6:58 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) -- For some students, school expenses may take precedence over paying for food.

You may be familiar with the term food insecurity.

Feeding America defines food insecurity as a household’s inability to provide enough food for every person to live an active, healthy life.

According to a report from the Wisconsin Hope Lab, 36-percent of college students are food insecure.

ISU graduate student Shawn Whitaker says this is going on right here in our community.

"I wish students could get that food they need and that everyone is able to get that food, but I do think there's a need on this campus,” Whitaker said.

That's why Dr. Andy Morgan at ISU started the Sycamore Pantry last January.

Morgan says 300 students utilized this free source last semester.

"I think it's helping students fulfill their needs because instead of deciding ‘Do I spend money on groceries this week, or do I spend money on buying this book or paying this bill,’ they can make a better choice," Morgan told News 10.

He hopes this will allow students to focus more on their academics.

"And as we know, if you're hungry and you're in a class trying to study or trying to take a test, that's going to be a huge distraction, so maybe that will help with our students' academics needs," Morgan said.

Stigma plays a role in preventing students from using this.

"I've heard from multiple of my students that work in res life that they say it's a pride thing. They don't want to go, unfortunately. I try to tell them 'hey if you need this, this is an option that's there, that you need to take advantage of it,” Whitaker said.

Food pantries are popping up on college campuses across the nation.

Whitaker believes more universities should do this.

"Not every student here has housing. Not every student here has meals. I think every campus should have that option of ‘hey if you can't get food, this is an option for you.’ You can still get an education, and still be well-nourished, so you need nourishment."

University officials expect to see an increase in use as more students learn about this opportunity.

Students can access the pantry five days a week. You can find the hours here.

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