By: Jasmine Saunders, Editor-in-Chief
Delaware State University officially became the first college campus in Delaware to have a food pantry for students on Nov. 2.
The food pantry is held in the John R. Price Building in Room 208.
“[DSU’s] total focus is always about student success,” said President Harry L. Williams.
The Harry K. Foundation sponsors the pantry in order to get food from the Food Bank of Delaware.
The Foundation is an organization that seeks to combat hunger in children. Their food insecurities don’t go away once they go to college. “As they grow up, that doesn’t mean things have changed for them altogether; the environment for them sometimes stays the same,” said Harry Keswani, the founder of the foundation.
“People learn better when they have food and they’re not worried about food,” said Patricia Beebe, the president and CEO of the Food Bank.
Dr. Marsha Horton, the dean of the College of Education, Health and Public Policy (CEHPP), made the pantry possible on campus, allowing students to use the pantry space in the building to house this resource for students.
“It’s just exciting that we were able to provide the service [for students], she said.
The food pantry was started by the CEHPP, specifically by Amy Gootee-Ash, a member of its faculty. Along with Goote-Ash, a few students within the department conducted a Preliminary Needs Assessment of approximately 320 students last spring to determine how much food insecurity was on campus.
They found that about 57 percent of students experienced some type of insecurity during the previous 12 months of spring 2016. However, 76 percent experienced inadequate food supplies more than once during that same semester.
Dr. Jacqueline A. Washington, the associate dean in the department was also instrumental in the creation of the food pantry through her research of college campuses in the country that had food pantries. She found and put into motion the idea to have the pantry open year-round because students who stay on campus once the academic school year ends still experience food insecurities.
“I have an issue with [students] not [being] able to eat,” she said.
The pantry is managed by students within the department who keep detailed records of who comes into the pantry and how much they take.
Aniah Coley, one of those managers thinks the pantry is a great idea and is proud to be a part of the project.
Another manager, Krystal Artis, was surprised [the pantry] took so long to happen on a college campus in the state. It seemed like something other colleges should have jumped on, she said.
After the ceremony, the Food Bank of Delaware had a mobile food truck set up near the Wellness and Recreation Center for students to stock up on perishable and non-perishable foods for the month.
The day the pantry opened, there was a large turnout as students lined up next to the truck to fill out paperwork to get food. The variety of foods available provides for students who may not have meal plans.
Shakeel Jeffcoat, a student who doesn’t have a meal plan was very grateful for this mobile food bank, jokingly referring it to helping “poor” college students.
“We’ll be able to pass our classes if we have food in our bellies,” he said.
Tiffani Savage, another student was very grateful for this opportunity on campus and how advantageous it is for students who don’t have the financial resources.
“It’s a great idea because there are a lot of students that [are] out here struggling who want to focus on school, but they don’t have the financial resources to help them stay energized,” she said.