Imagine: You’ve just received your financial aid packet in the mail. You look it over, glancing over the steep prices for tuition, room and board, but you agree to it. It’s a done deal. But what if it weren’t that easy? What if, in order to pay for classes and textbooks, transportation and cleaning fees, you had to give up something infinitely more necessary for your wellbeing: food.
According to a 2018 survey made by the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition, “43.5% of students face food insecurity during their college careers.” But since 2010, Southern Oregon University has been doing its part to help end this problem through the SOU Student Food Pantry.
Located in Stevenson Union, the SOU Student Food Pantry, or SFP for short, serves around 20-30 students per month, minimizing the financial burdens that they may carry. “No one should have to go hungry because of the cost of classes and no one should feel ashamed to ask for help.” says Student Food Pantry Coordinator, Samuel Rose. “I personally come from a low income background and struggle with food disparity myself, so being able to pay this resource forward to others in the same boat has been a dream come true.”
Starting this week, the SFP will be returning to in-person “shopping” experiences, a way of receiving materials that had to be put on hold last year during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Registered students will be able to access non-perishable goods like pasta, canned proteins, canned fruits and vegetables, and more. Occasionally, students will also be offered bread, pastries, eggs, and fresh produce provided by the SOU Farm and local businesses.
One of the wonderful things about the Student Food Pantry is its accessibility. “Any currently enrolled SOU student can access the Food Pantry,” says Equity Coordinator for Sustainability and Basic Needs Resourcing Jill Smedstad. “Other than being an SOU student, there are no other eligibility requirements.” And luckily, the process to gain access to the food pantry’s benefits is an easy one!
“Students can stop by the Student Sustainability Office of the Social Justice and Equity Center in SU 310 and tell the student worker that they are there for the Food Pantry,” says Smedstad. “The student worker will help visitors fill out the client intake form, which student clients need to fill out just one time per academic year. For future visits the student will just need to show their student ID with “cleared for campus” status and SOU ID number for checking in. Then the worker will open up the Food Pantry and explain the system.”
The SFP gladly accepts donations from other students or community organizations, both through physical and monetary forms. Non-perishable donations can be brought to the Student Sustainability office in SU 310 during SFP business hours, while monetary donations can be processed here.
We at The Siskiyou encourage you to utilize the resources that the SOU Student Food Pantry makes available. If you or a someone you know needs assistance with accessing food, you may request information at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the SFP facility during the following hours:
Stevenson Union (SU) 310:
Monday & Wednesday 10-5pm
Tuesday and Thursday 10-6pm