Now stacked with items ranging from boxes of cereal and oatmeal to canned beans and soups, the FIU Student Food Pantry is open and ready to serve students in need.
The pantry, which opened in early December 2013, was created with the goal of helping students unsure of where their next meal will come from in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Food insecurity and hunger on college campuses have become rising issues in recent years with a number of schools opening food pantries on their own campuses. FIU becomes the latest to open one.
Student Health Services dietician Christine Tellez recognized the need for a food pantry in her discussions with students, some of whom are forced to make difficult choices when it comes to getting a good meal or purchasing other necessities required for college life.
“In a lot of my appointments, I had students coming in that didn’t have enough to eat and were going hungry and we want to offer them some healthy options,” Tellez said. “Unfortunately, I think students often think that food is a more dispensable part of their budget over things like housing, books, transportation and so they end up not having enough to eat.”
Located at the Wellness Center (WUC 307) at the Biscayne Bay Campus, the pantry is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays. All registered FIU students can access the food pantry once a week with a valid student ID and no proof of need is required to access the pantry. Student Health Services also encourages and accepts donations of food, toiletries and other essentials for the pantry.
Collaboration among several organizations on campus helped the food pantry make a successful launch. Student Health Services, the Center for Leadership and Service (CLS) and the Students for the Poor club each played a role in bringing the pantry to life and filling its shelves.
Students for the Poor – FIU BBC Chapter, a student-run organization associated with Food for the Poor, led the way in stocking the pantry through food drives and fundraisers. They also help volunteer during the pantry’s hours to distribute food for students who request assistance.
“It’s another way for us to serve and create a legacy at FIU where we protect each other and look out for one another,” said Students for the Poor Club President Nashua Wisdom. “Though we are a very large school and it’s easy to get lost in the crowd, we still want to let people know that someone is looking out for them.”
In addition to creating a way for students to volunteer and get involved in community service, Wisdom takes pride in helping the club live up to its mission of making an impact in the community. Currently, the food pantry is being maintained primarily through food drives organized by student groups like Students for the Poor while seeking additional means for funding.
Plans are in place to open an additional pantry at Modesto Maidique Campus in February or March 2014, which would provide easier access to students taking a majority of their classes at the university’s south campus. Potential locations for the MMC-based pantry are still being explored.
“We’re known for being Worlds Ahead and this is part of being Worlds Ahead: looking out for others as we grow as a university,” Wisdom said. “It’s the humanitarian aspect of everything we do.”
To find out more about the Student Food Pantry, send an email to the Wellness Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.