Food pantry to open in Activity Center

Faculty members work to prevent hunger in students with help of local food bank

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After a year in planning, a food pantry is set to open in ULM’s Activity Center to help fight food insecurity among students.

While attending the UL System conference last January, ULM staff members learned how food insecurity among college students was an issue that needed to be addressed, according to Michael Bruscato, the director of recreational services.

“It’s something that opened my eyes that there are students on campus that have to determine whether to pay rent or buy groceries,” Bruscato said. “I don’t think that should be an option.”

After returning back from the conference, Bruscato teamed up with the director of Student Life and Leadership, Emily Essex, to make the food pantry a reality on campus.

“After some more research, we were bothered that our students could be going through this and we knew we had to do something,” Essex said.

While there are no numbers yet on how many ULM students face food insecurity, a national survey by the University of Wisconsin found that over a third of students were “food insecure” in the United States.

“It’s hard to focus on academics when you are hungry. We don’t always have the time or the funding to go shop so having this on campus is going to be great,” said Henry Diaz, a graduate student in the business administration program.

The campus food pantry will be partnering with The Northeast Louisiana Foodbank as a method of obtaining food and will be run by student volunteers.

“We already have a good partnership with the local food bank as multiple student organizations here on campus hold food drives, and volunteer there so with this agreement, it should only strengthen our ties,” Essex said.

This allows the ULM food pantry to always have access to food without relying on donors and simplify the collection process.

SGA voted last fall to provide the funding for the enclosing fees for a room in the Activity Center where the pantry will be housed.

The pantry will be accessible to all ULM students enrolled in school and will be open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Fridays during the spring and fall semesters.

Students’ will be able to collect up to four pounds of food twice a week.

Due to the limited resources starting off, the pantry will only have nonperishable items.

“I know this is not going to end food insecurity or hunger, but this is definitely going to help,” Bruscato said.