North Texas Daily

UNT food pantry helps relieve food insecurity among students

UNT food pantry helps relieve food insecurity among students

February 19
21:39 2017

Often students are too stressed to find time for anything, even eating. According to a Twitter poll of 237 students at UNT, 75 percent said they have gone without eating for a period of time in order to save money.

But students who have struggled with food availability can set aside their worries by going to the UNT Food Pantry. The pantry, directed by Associate Dean of Students Rodney Mitchell, has served food-insecure students since 2015.

“Students are appreciative of the pantry,” Mitchell said. “There are people who are food insecure, please don’t hesitate to use the pantry. Students need to understand that they can’t learn when they’re hungry.”

The volunteers who dedicate their time to code the donated foods, check the foods expiration dates and pick up donations from different offices on campus make the UNT Food Pantry function. Students like biology sophomore Rebecca Carvajal and interior design freshman Sarah Payne volunteer with the food pantry to “give back to the student body” and to earn community service hours with their sorority, Chi Omega.

“I thought it would be a great idea to volunteer at our school rather than outside,” Carvajal said. “This was one of the good opportunities, we are just giving back to the students”

While they rely heavily on donations from students, staff and student organizations, the food pantry has established partnerships with various departments at UNT to secure monthly donations. Each department has designated a month to collect canned foods and donate them to the food pantry.

“I’m here to volunteer because it’s more direct,” Payne said. “All of the food goes back to the students and people just like us who are just trying to get an education and better themselves. They deserve the help and they probably need it.”

Students may be going hungry because they couldn’t afford the meal plans UNT had offered. The cheapest meal plan at UNT, the Scrappy Basic meal plan, costs a total just over $1,500, while the most expensive meal plan, the Eagle Value meal plan costs just over $1,800. Because of this, students often restrict how much they spend on food in order to direct more money to paying off their student debt, or to just have more money in the bank.

Food pantry information

The foods stored in the pantry are non-perishable canned goods, targeted items for donation include: Pasta sides, box cereal, mashed potatoes, oatmeal, fruit snacks, microwaveable popcorn, canned fruits, vegetables and tuna, Chef Boyardee, chili, canned beans, instant rice, crackers, granola bars, pudding cups, muffins, toiletries and feminine hygiene products.

If students need to go to the food pantry they can access it through the front desk of the Dean of Students Office at Suite 409 in the Union, the process is kept confidential. The Food Pantry is open to students 8am-7pm Monday through Thursday, and 8am- 5pm on Fridays.

Featured Image: The University of North Texas food pantry , located in the Union, acts as a storage for dry foods. Jake King

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Anna Orr

Anna Orr

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