According to a study released this past April by Temple University’s Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, approximately 45% of college students in the United States regularly deal with some level of food insecurity. As tuition costs rise, money from scholarships is reduced, and students are expected to take out loans to pay for textbooks and myriad extraneous school-related expenses while studying full time, it’s unavoidable that sometimes these things come at the expense of a healthy diet. In response to this issue, UAH’s Student Government Association has recently implemented a food bank open to students.
According to SGA’s Director of Campus Engagement Jessica Hunter, the food bank became available on Sep. 17 and is planned to run indefinitely. While it has been advertised through Student Life newsletters, emails and posters it’s important that students who may need access to this service understand the process enough to use it comfortably.
There are no eligibility requirements that have been set by SGA for access to the food bank, according to Hunter. Rather, the process relies on an “honor system” in which the students whose financial situations limit their access to a sufficient and healthy diet are expected to reach out. “We trust that our students value this resource and therefore will only use it when needed,” explains Hunter.
Anyone who needs the food bank should contact Nikki Goode at [email protected] to request access. In order to prevent stigma and protect student anonymity, the location of the food bank will not be publicly revealed by SGA. No students will be made aware of the identities of anyone who uses the food bank; rather, it will be handled entirely through Student Life. Students who request access will be given instructions to pick up the food they need securely. The bank then provides students with a hygiene pack and a week’s worth of food, taking special care to provide a balanced and healthy diet. A student can expect a 24 hour delay after requesting access. There are no limits on how frequently an individual can use the food bank.
The idea for a food bank was pitched at an SGA meeting over the summer and was allegedly met with unanimous support, and funding has been allocated from SGA’s annual budget. Hunter says the most significant challenges she expects to face will be ensuring that future versions of SGA understands the importance of the food bank and maintain it from year to year.