Eau Claire eats

Campus Harvest food pantry reduces food insecurity on campus

Macey VanDenMeerendonk

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To help with this issue and to decrease the high percentages of students who have to go without, UW-Eau Claire created the Campus Harvest food pantry in September 2014. Food insecurity affects 36 percent of college students in the US.

Many college students understand what it is like to live on a budget. With tuition bills, housing fees and life expenses, it all adds up very quickly. 

One of the biggest areas that is budgeted is spending on groceries. 

For some, the choice has to be made between spending their money on bills or groceries, which many times leaves students forced to go without food for a week or two. 

According to an article by CNBC Make It, researchers surveyed 43,000 college students at 66 schools and found that 36 percent of students on US college campuses are considered “food insecure.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.

With the struggle to access food in general, healthy foods can be out of reach for many students even if they can afford to grocery shop.  

Forty percent of four-year college students report an inability to pay for balanced meals, the CNBC article stated.

To help with this issue and to decrease the high percentages of students who have to go without, UW-Eau Claire created the Campus Harvest food pantry in September 2014. It is run by students exclusively for UW-Eau Claire students, according to an article posted by UW-Eau Claire.

The campus food pantry was introduced by the UW-Eau Claire Foundation and Office of Student Affairs in partnership with Feed My People Food Bank in Eau Claire, an article posted on UW-Eau Claire’s website said. 

The article said, “the campus food pantry is an easy way for our campus community to become a more unified whole.”

The majority of their products are donated from the community and the campus. The pantry offers perishable and nonperishable food items and hygiene products that are free to UW-Eau Claire students. 

The food offerings in the Campus Harvest food pantry include fresh produce harvested from the McIntyre Library Community Garden, grown by library staff and other volunteers during summer months, a UW-Eau Claire article stated.

Food insecurity does not just keep students from proper nutrition, it can cause many other issues for students who face it. 

It can greatly affect students’ academic standing, CNBC said. 

One study from researchers at the University of Florida found that food insecure students were more likely to have GPAs below a B average, CNBC said. 

CNBC’s article said the effects can be even greater than lower GPAs. Food insecurity has also been linked to delayed graduation, which can force students to take on even more debt in order to finish their degrees.

In some situations, students are forced to drop out of college and must begin repaying loans without the professional benefits of having an advanced degree, according to CNBC. 

Having programs like the Campus Harvest food pantry is important in more ways than one — it can provide the piece of mind that students have something to eat so their focus can be on their academics. 

VanDenMeerendonk can be reached at [email protected]