Student-Run Food Banks Making a Difference on Campus

Student-Run Food Banks Making a Difference on Campus
Izzy Hall

You may be surprised to learn that many of your fellow college students struggle with hunger. About 1 in 5 students are affected by food insecurity. In a normal time, not getting enough to eat can impact students' grades, health and ability to finish their degrees. And a loss of campus jobs, housing and meal plans due to the pandemic puts more students in danger of going without the food they need. That’s where student-run food banks and pantries come in.

While the total number of food pantries on college campuses is unknown, their prevalence on campuses across the country has grown in the past five years as students become more aware of the impact of food insecurity. Food pantries may be run by administrators or student organizations, staffed by volunteers or paid workers, connected to a campus farm or stocked with shelf-stable goods. Some food pantries serve just the campus community; some are open to members of the wider community alongside students. And many are innovating on ways to support students in need no matter where they attend school this Fall 2020 semester, including sending food-insecure students gift cards for groceries while they study from home or using software to arrange food pick-up times for local students.

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Student Alliance saw success when they opened a campus food bank this past February. By March, they had donated 800 pounds of food to 150 students. Students at UWO researched local food pantries to get a feel for how to structure their organization. They also received funding from members of the university community to help get their food pantry up and running.

If you are interested in starting a food bank at your campus, or organizing ways to delivery foods to students studying remotely this fall semester, check out the digital resources from the College & University Food Bank Alliance. And giving back to your community can help you earn scholarship money for college. Whether it's donating your time in a food bank, volunteering at your local animal shelter, aiding the elderly or running fundraisers for community events, your generosity can qualify you for a range of community service scholarships. Try a free scholarship search today and discover how good deeds can pay for college!

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