Campus food pantry petition gains traction

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An online petition through Change.org to start a student-run campus food pantry has been gaining attention throughout the Kansas State student body.

The idea for a campus food pantry was created in order to combat the results following the Campus Climate Survey conducted in 2014. The survey discovered that roughly 40 percent of K-State students identified as food insecure or lacking a consistent source of nutritious food.

Christine Rock, senior in food science and industry, is one of the many K-State students behind this petition.

“Two years have passed, and our students are still lacking substantial resources to fill this constant need,” Rock said.

K-State still remains one of the only Big 12 schools without an established food pantry for its students. Talk of having an on-campus food pantry has been taking place for the past six years, but the conversation began to gain more attention and momentum following the 2014 Campus Climate Survey results.

Trenton Kennedy, student body vice president and junior in entrepreneurship, said getting food in the hands of hungry students is important.

“The biggest priority right now is to just get food in the hands of hungry students,” Kennedy said. “That needs to be addressed first and foremost.”

The Office of Student Life, a supporter of the food pantry, currently has a small-scale food pantry that anyone can donate to located in Holton Hall 101.

Nate Faflick, sophomore in family studies, said the K-State family community is important in this circumstance.

“K-State prides itself on family,” Faflick said. “To me, family means the people that are there to support you regardless of your position or circumstances. The campus not having a food pantry means that there is an unaddressed student need.”

This unaddressed need for food is well known by Lorena Juanez, sophomore in economics.

“I remember going to bed hungry and waking up hungry,” she said. “I would go to school hungry because my parents didn’t have money for food and I would not eat until lunchtime came.”

Juanez said she signed the petition.

“I think having a food pantry will help tremendously in more ways than just one,” Juanez said. “Not only financially, but physically and mentally. I have had my fair share of moments with food insecurity.”

Faculty members alongside a team of students are working together to serve the campus by making sure the needs of each student are met. These students include: Rock, Garrett Wilkinson, senior in nutritional sciences, Nick Bouzianis, sophomore in nutritional sciences, Dietra Sober, freshman in open option and Kennedy Hackerott, freshman in open option.

Wilkinson and Bouzianis wrote the petition, “Call to Action: Establish a Campus Food Pantry” and Rock put the petition together on Change.org.

The petition reached over 600 supporters by Tuesday and has numerous comments, from students struggling with food insecurity to those wanting to make a change on K-State’s campus.

The petition description urges those reading to not allow students or faculty members to make the choice between food and other life essentials. It provides an example of students who are able to put their financial resources together to cover tuition, books, transportation costs, rent, electricity and other necessities, but once those bills are paid, they have nothing left to cover the cost of food.

The idea of having a campus food pantry does have some downfalls, however, Rock said.

“We’ve identified several resources to begin to stock the pantry with food, but start-up costs related to the infrastructure of the proposed pantry facility won’t be free,” Rock said. “Next steps include securing a location and then equipping that space to be able to serve both perishable and nonperishable food products.”

However, a concern about the definition on the petition is a concern for Juanez.

“The word ‘poor’ kind of rubbed me the wrong way,” Juanez said. “There is no one way a ‘poor’ person looks. Maybe ‘underprivileged’ would be a better use.”

Kennedy also serves on the Student Centered Tuition Enhancements Fund Committee, which will be deliberating in the spring for the 2018 fiscal year. On the agenda is the proposed campus food pantry. Receiving the fund from SCTE would cover the startup costs for the pantry, Kennedy said.

“KSU is closer than we ever have been to establishing an on–campus food pantry,” Bouzianis explains, “If you think that over 8,000 food insecure students at K-State is too many or you struggle with food insecurity, please reach out to Dr. Pat Bosco and show the university that you care.”

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