“This is a symbol for how much the different groups on campus care about our students. We’re willing to do whatever it takes to keep them in school.”
With those words, Cathy Sayer, director of service learning, dedicated the Friendship Food Pantry at Wright State University on Jan 31.
Wright State is the latest university to join the student food bank trend. Similar programs are already in place at UCLA, Oregon State, West Virginia and other schools.
“Congratulations to everyone involved in this great service,” said Jacqueline Dooley, who runs the food bank at West Virginia University. “Showing ‘the love’ is catching on. Since our opening, I’ve received calls from universities in Virginia, Florida and Texas wanting to establish a food pantry for their students.”
The food pantry will provide students in need with 48 hours’ worth of emergency meals. It will also provide student parents with formula, wipes and diapers. Food pantry volunteers can also refer students to community programs that provide longer-term food assistance and help with other needs.
Starting the pantry was a collaborative effort. An undergraduate English class surveyed students to determine the need for a food pantry. The Office of Service Learning applied for and received a grant from Ohio Campus Compact and AmeriCorps VISTA. Wright State University President David R. Hopkins and Senior VP for Business and Fiscal Affairs Matthew Filipic both wrote letters of support to help secure the funding.
Through the grant, Wright State hired Rebecca Fensler to coordinate the food pantry. She researched the need for this program on campus and similar programs at other schools.
“I’m very proud to be part of this project,” said Fensler.
Fensler understands the benefits of a food pantry because she remembers struggling financially as an undergraduate. She said that she even considered leaving school as a junior to work full-time, but that support from her university helped her continue her studies.
The pantry is located in 134 Allyn Hall on Wright State’s Dayton Campus. Students and staff volunteers sort, organize and distribute the food.
Wright State is looking for ways to help its students during these difficult economic times. This year, the university donated $5,000 to the Friendship Food Pantry and an additional $5,000 to establish a student emergency fund.
“We found out from listening to our students that this needed to be done,” said Hopkins. “We are committed to changing lives. We’re here, first and foremost, to help every single student succeed.”