There is a huge stigma around asking for help, especially when it feels like you are alone in a situation. Many people have a hard time deciding between paying bills or buying food.
And some people do not have easy access to a grocery store.
The Department of Agriculture said that in 2019, about 11% of Americans struggled with this reality.
Among that large number of people are college students, according to Feeding America.
Food insecurity is “the disruption of food intake or eating patterns because of lack of money and other resources,” according to Healthy People 2020.
To help combat this, the ULM Food Pantry is back open for the fall semester. It first opened in February of this year and has been aiding students.
The director of Recreational Services, Michael Bruscato, and the director of Student Life and Leadership, Emily Essex, came together last year to create a way for students to have access to free food by using their valid student ID.
“I just don’t think any student should ever have to choose between paying bills or eating supper,” Bruscato said. “That’s not what they’re here for. They’re here to learn and to get a degree.”
Any student is eligible to use the food pantry. It is not open to faculty or staff, but the pantry is partnered with the Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana, so faculty and staff can use that resource if needed.
Brittany Williamson, assistant coordinator of Intramurals and the manager of day-to-day operations at the pantry said, “[Our] mission is to provide access to food for current students experiencing food insecurities. This issue had not yet been addressed on our campus before now.”
Since the pantry is just getting started, the food stored is non-perishable. They hope to change that in the future and add more perishable items to their assembly.
Among the foods available are: Breakfast cereals, pancake and muffin mix, cups and canned fruit, pasta, beans, rice, canned vegetables, peanut butter, jelly, hamburger skillet meals, oatmeal, crackers, cookies, raisins, water, other beverages and the all-time college favorite meal, Maruchan Ramen Noodles.
“ULM Students may face different levels of food insecurity, but no matter the situation, no student should have to choose between food and basic needs,” Williamson said.
Anyone can make donations of non-perishable foods to the pantry. Students can go twice a week; the first time they go they will have to fill out a form.
The pantry is located in the Activity Center and is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Fridays.