In an effort to diminish food insecurity among students, on Sept. 2 the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will open the Campus Harvest food pantry on campus.
Introduced by the UW-Eau Claire Foundation and Office of Student Affairs in partnership with Feed My People Food Bank in Eau Claire, Campus Harvest is located in Room 38 on the lower level of Schofield Hall.
According to Feeding America's 2014 Hunger in America Report, 10 percent of the 46.5 million individuals who currently use the Feeding America network of food banks are students. Of those, nearly one-third said that they had to choose between spending their money on food and spending their money on their education.
"For a whole summer, I relied on my work shifts for a meal because I couldn't afford to buy any myself," said UW-Eau Claire student Denise Bustamante. "Most of the money I made went towards rent and paying bills. When I was able to afford something other than the latter, I started grocery shopping again."
Students often hide their need due to embarrassment, but Kimera Way, UW-Eau Claire Foundation president, and Suzanne Becker, assistant director of Feed My People Food Bank, have made it their mission to help this silent population. Way and Becker often discussed food needs among UW-Eau Claire students and decided to follow the example set by UW-Stevens Point's food pantry.
"We both started talking to people and were encouraged to know that many people on campus saw the need and were ready to be on board," said Becker, who agreed to have Feed My People be a partner in the new campus initiative.
Campus Harvest will be open three days a week for two hours each day, staffed by student volunteers and offering food to students without asking for proof of need. Food and monetary donations will be collected to stock the pantry, with gifted money being used exclusively to buy food from Feed My People Food Bank.
"It felt like we needed to have a resource here for our university students since it seems obvious that young people don't stop being hungry or having food insecurities just because they leave home for college," Way said. "Our mission is to ensure the success of all of our students. If we have students at UW-Eau Claire who are struggling to stay in school and in their studies because of food insecurity and hunger issues, helping to get a food pantry on campus is one small way we can remove a barrier and help ensure their success. Given the overwhelmingly positive response, I think we've done the right thing."
Campus Harvest accepts perishable and nonperishable food items and has an online fund through the UW-Eau Claire Foundation. Pantry hours will be noon to 2 p.m. on Mondays, 2-4 p.m. on Tuesdays and 5-7 p.m. on Thursdays.
About Campus Harvest:
Campus Harvest Food Pantry is an on-campus food pantry at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. An initiative of the Office of Student Affairs and run by student volunteers, Campus Harvest provides supplemental food aid to university students in need. For more information, visit http://www.uwec.edu/Studentaffairs/initiatives/campus-harvest.htm or contact Aubry Reed at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.