The ‘broke-as-a-joke college kid’ is a reliable old punchline, people laugh at the idea of students boiling hotdogs in their coffee pots because they don’t have a stove, or eating nothing but ramen noodles from the 99 cent store — but it actually isn’t that funny. Missing meals is not a joke.
Evidence suggests that more than a quarter of all college kids find themselves in this very serious predicament.
According to Feeding America’s 2014 Hunger in America report, roughly 10 percent of its 46.5 million adult clients are college students. This amounts to two million full-time college students. Of those surveyed by the emergency food services network, roughly 30.5 percent of students reported that they were forced to choose between food and educational expenses at some point within the year.
In order to combat this problem, the office of student life at Shawnee State University (SSU) has decided to open the Bear Necessities Pantry.
Opening in August, the Bear Necessities Pantry’s mission is to serve students who are experiencing food insecurity or hunger. The Pantry will also provide personal care items and basic school supplies. Any Shawnee State student, with a valid SSU ID, is eligible to receive non-perishable goods by visiting the Bear Necessities Pantry in the University Center Room 221.
For the 2015-2016 school year, there were 1,243 Shawnee Students with no reported Estimated Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is a formula used to calculate an applicant’s eligibility for need-based federal student aid. A family’s taxed and un-taxed income, assets and benefits (such as unemployment or Social Security) are all considered in the formula.
And while students may have the emotional support of their families to pursue higher education, they don’t have the financial support that is needed.
“For the past few years, my office and several others on campus have been keeping food items to give out as needed in our offices,” explained Tiffany Hartman, the director of student life at SSU. “We see so many students and we’ve heard so many stories about how they’ve chosen between buying their books over buying lunch, or putting gas in their car to commute versus spending that money on a meal. It has always bothered me that for some students that is the only option that they have. We don’t want hunger to be the reason why a student isn’t successful in college. As a university, it’s our job to do everything we can for our students.”
The Bear Necessities Pantry will operate entirely on donations, accepting non-perishable goods as well as monetary donations. Monetary donations can be in the form of cash or check made payable to Shawnee State University, with Bear Necessities Pantry in the memo line. Donations will be accepted in University Center Room, 221 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
“Financial aid and student loans are supposed to be used for educational purposes and sometimes students can live off of that and sometimes they can’t,” explained Hartman. “It’s a national issue, it’s not just this area. Opening this pantry was something I felt compelled to do. For awhile, we were limited by different things. But now, we finally have the space and the support to make something like this happen. We’ve received an overwhelmingly positive response from the faculty, students and the community. We just want to make sure that our students have the opportunity to do the best they can.”
If you would like to make a contribution here are some suggestions on what to donate.
Pasta Sides, Mashed Potatoes, Boxed Cereal, Oatmeal, Fruit Snacks, Fruit Cups, Microwave Popcorn, Canned Vegetables, Canned Fruit, Canned Pasta, Macaroni & Cheese, Soups, Ramen Noodles, Pop Tarts, Chili, Canned Beans, Instant Rice, Canned Tuna, Crackers, Granola Bars, Pudding Cups, Muffins
Tooth Brushes, Toothpaste, Deodorant, Feminine Hygiene Products, Bath Soap, Shampoo/Conditioner, Lotion, Toilet Paper
Notebooks, Loose Leaf Paper, Note Cards, Pens, Pencils, Hi-Lighters, Notecards, Folders, Binders, Post-Its
For more information about the Bear Necessities Pantry, or to find out how to make a contribution please contact the Office of Student Life at 740-351-3392.
Reach Ciara Conley at 740-353-3101 ext. 1932, Facebook “Ciara Conley - Daily Times,” and Twitter @PDT_Ciara