If there is one program on campus that understands the role of a healthy, consistent diet in academic success, the Student Food Pantry would be it.
According to Sophia Mantheakis, Hunger and Homelessness Alleviation Coordinator, the program recognizes the “poor starving college student” stereotype as more than just a joke, but as a reality that many students face every day.
Mantheakis explained that rising tuition costs play a significant role in students living on a tight budget and sometimes having to forgo basic necessities in favor of bills of higher priority. Government programs often require certain qualifications that students might not meet, even though they have actual need for the resources.
“Students don’t always have the means to seek out support,” she said. “It’s really hard to ask for help when there are qualifications.”
Mantheakis said the main goal of the Student Food Pantry is to make sure that students aren’t hungry. She explained that students often feel like working takes priority over school, when they are faced with not being able to afford food and basic necessities. Since October, the Student Food Pantry has helped 105 students, half of which return on a regular basis.
The program was established at the beginning of this academic year after a survey asked students whether or not they would use a food pantry, Mantheakis said. Out of the 566 responses that followed, far surpassing the expected 150-200, 80 percent answered yes.
The Student Food Pantry is located in room 124B in the basement of the Stevenson Union, next to the Arena. Any currently enrolled student with a valid ID can use the pantry, taking up to 10 items per week. This includes hygiene and household supplies, pet food, fresh produce from the campus garden, nonperishable canned foods, and more.
Donation bins can be found in the residence halls, C-stores, the Student Health and Wellness Center, Cox Hall, and the Hannon Library. Donations are also accepted at the Student Life offices in SU312 and Academic Support Programs, in the basement.
Mantheakis encourages food donations such as vegetarian and non-vegetarian soup, canned fruit and vegetables, cereal, and rice.
The Student Food Pantry has partnered with many of programs on campus, such as intramural sports, the SOU Bookstore, the Women’s Resource Center and the Commuter Resource Center, to name a few.
“It’s been awesome to see people seek us out and say they really want to support us,” said Mantheakis.
As part of Raider Days, which will take place during the last week of May, EPIC will be collecting food for the program as admission to their dunk tank station in the SU courtyard, Mantheakis said. Information regarding additional future events has not yet been released.
According to Mantheakis, often students who use the resource often give back when they find themselves financially stable, or in a position to do so.
“It’s amazing to me that we have this caring campus community,” she said.