In a bid to fight food insecurity, the University of North Texas (UNT) has joined forces with grocery giant Kroger to create a food pantry that will provide much-needed meals to disadvantaged students.
As part of its Zero Hunger Zero Waste project, the supermarket has pledged $250,000 to support the university’s food pantry for the next five years.
With a $250K donation from @Kroger, #UNT will continue its efforts to serve students experiencing food insecurity. The support will ensure the @UNTPantry can provide healthy and nutritious food to students in need for years to come. Details: https://t.co/HMJwQFjGY1 pic.twitter.com/hW5FvkRJl7
— UNT News (@UNTnews) April 8, 2021
This contribution will help keep UNT’s food pantry fully stocked during a particularly difficult period for many trying to complete their education. The university will also employ two student workers to assist with inventory, volunteer management, and the online order system. Students with dietary restrictions, including those that are vegan, can also receive support from the pantry.
In 2015, UNT opened its pantry for students in need and since then has served over 9,000 students.
Since demand has surged during the pandemic, UNT vice president for student affairs Elizabeth With said the donation will “allow our food pantry to strengthen its efforts to fight the food insecurity our students experience.”
Many students experience shame confessing that they are hungry. To spare these students embarrassment, the pantry also has a backdoor entrance. The food pantry is also offering curbside pickup due to the ongoing pandemic.
Universities Battling Food Insecurity
Even before the pandemic hit, a growing number of colleges and universities across the country were campaigning to address the problem of hunger and food insecurity. Universities such as Brown, Ohio State, and Penn State have worked to provide affordable and healthy meals to first-generation and low-income students.
The pandemic added fuel to the fire, forcing more schools to take a closer look at the situation.
Last year, Cerritos College in California collaborated with the LA Food Bank to set up a food bank for students affected by the pandemic.
In February, State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras announced a grant program to help address the food crisis on campus. The program would help economically disadvantaged campuses to procure fresh food. It would also allow student associations and campus food pantry coordinators to apply for up to $1,000 in grants on behalf of their colleges.
Speaking about the grant and the challenges students and universities have faced during the pandemic, Malatras said, “The pangs of hunger should not cloud a student’s education.”