Before the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity was a persistent problem for many Americans. As a result of the ugly underside of the pandemic, coupled with inflation, food insecurity has now become a national issue affecting 20% of U.S. households (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture).
When we talk about food insecurity, students may not be top of mind. However, recent surveys (ex. Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice) indicate that one out of every three college or university students in the U.S. is food insecure. As many are dealing with the stress of academics, balancing multiple jobs, or taking care of the family, the added burden of food insecurity has a profound impact on their success in school and well-being. For example, it’s not unusual for students to skip or cut down on meals. Or to purchase food items based on cost, rather than nutrition. Without a doubt, studying on an empty stomach can lead to bad marks, poor learning, or, in the worst case, dropping out.
At Bay Path, our solution is the Wildcat Food Pantry.
Under the direction of Tanya Coles-Dailey, Assistant Director of Health & Wellness, the Wildcat Food Pantry was established to tackle the issue of food insecurity at Bay Path. Working with Terry Maxey, Executive Director of Open Pantry, and Michael Akers, Assistant Director, the Wildcat Pantry will be a model for other organizations who want to form their own outlet to provide food and other essentials.
“The main goal of the Bay Path Wildcat Food Pantry is to serve as a community-based program that collects and safely stores food, personal care, and household products for free distribution to members of the Bay Path community who are facing food insecurity,” states Tanya Coles-Dailey. “This is our first phase where we will be offering non-perishables, personal care items, diapers, and other items. We are planning a second phase that will include perishable food products, and our third phase will have a clothing closet and books for children. We have partnered with the Ed Club and have started to collect books, which is exciting. Our hope is to continue to collaborate with other clubs and organizations on campus to expand services in the pantry. We want this to become a place that our community can come to for support. And in time, we will also be holding donation drives. Stay tuned!”
Located on the lower level of the Blake Student Commons, the Wildcat Pantry weekly hours are Monday, Wednesday & Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. by appointment. It is open to ALL students, faculty, and staff from the Bay Path community. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.