Food Insecurity at Pacific
With the high prices of meal plans on campus as well as in the UC, it can be difficult for many Pacific students to get the nutrition they need without emptying their wallets of money that could be used for other necessities. This dilemma leads to a prevalent issue affecting over half of the Pacific community: food insecurity.
According to research conducted by Pacific Food Pantry Coordinator, Miranda Heaney, about 50% of Pacific students experience food insecurity five times or more in a given semester. Furthermore, in 2018 alone, there have been more than 500 visits to the Pacific Food Pantry, thus proving its necessity and usefulness on campus. “Our demand is consistently rising, so it’s incredibly important to donate ⎯ whether that’s online, donating, extra meal points at the end of the semester, or bringing physical items to Cowell Wellness. In the future we hope to be able to expand into a larger space and provide items such as produce and household goods,” she says.
In order to combat the issue of food insecurity, the Cowell Wellness Center provides a home to the Pacific Food Pantry, a very valuable resource to students needing basic nutrition and hygiene necessities. Students in need of the food pantry are required to show student ID, but the services are kept completely confidential. The food pantry is completely free to all Pacific students with each student being allowed one bag of items per week.
According to Pacwell Director Elizabeth Thompson, “It’s important to remember that the definition for food insecurity is: ‘the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.’ It does not mean that people are going without food all day and night. But consider a student who is trying to better their financial situation by getting a degree. That student drives to campus (gasoline), buys books, pays for tuition and either has to pack a lunch and/or dinner or breakfast OR buy something in the DUC/Grove. Imagine how expensive buying an affordable meal that gives you enough nutrition to sustain the next four classes? Imagine doing that everyday. It gets expensive.”
The creation of the Pacific Food Pantry shows the dedication that members of the Pacific community have towards helping each other succeed. As students and faculty, we all know how stressful university life can be on its own. The Pacific Food Pantry helps to take away some of the extra stress students may face by making sure that they don’t have to choose between spending their money on food or on other necessities.
While the Pacific Food Pantry is able to buy food at a discounted rate from the San Joaquin Emergency Food Bank, their stock is completely donation based. Any funding that it receives is from personal donations or grants. If you find yourself left with extra meal plan at the end of the semester, consider using it to buy non-perishable food or toiletries from the grove to be donated to the Pacific Food Pantry. To donate, bring your items to the front desk of Cowell Wellness Center any time between the hours of 8am-5pm Monday through Friday. Your donations could go a long way towards helping another student through a tough time!