Lion’s Pantry, student food bank, opens doors on Nov. 20

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- With the cost of education and student debt rising, Penn State has made affordability and accessibility a priority for its students. A multitude of resources are available for all students, including additional resources for historically underserved populations. But even in the happiest of valleys, many students don’t know where their next meal will come from.

Food insecurity is a problem that is not often associated with U.S. college students. The USDA reports that an estimated 14.3 percent of American households were food insecure – lacking access to enough food to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle – for all household members in 2013. A University of Oregon survey this year found that 59 percent of students at Western Oregon University had recently experienced food insecurity. Unfortunately, food insecurity also is an issue for many students at Penn State.

 

With support from the College of Agricultural Sciences; the Sustainability Institute; Housing, Food Service and Residence Life; the Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management program; Project Cahir; the State College Food Bank; and various student organizations, Penn State students have created Lion’s Pantry, an on-campus food bank intended to supplement the food budget of Penn State students in need by providing them with a weekly assortment of goods donated by community members and corporate partners.

“Grocery bills add up and are just one part of the equation in paying for an education,” said Alex Mendonca, a student organizer of Lion’s Pantry. “We don't want students who don't have something to eat due to food costs be one of the reasons why they have to withdraw from school.”

“We don't want students who don't have something to eat due to food costs be one of the reasons why they have to withdraw from school.” – Alex Mendonca, Lion’s Pantry organizer

A ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house will be held at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20. The pantry is located on Service Road across the street from the Blue Band Building. All are welcome to attend and to donate non-perishable food items.

“I've heard stories about students and met students who sacrifice everything for the dream of getting a college degree,” said Jake Ruddy, a student working on the pantry project. “My hope is the pantry will allow students to focus on their education, not where their next meal will come from.”

“My hope is the pantry will allow students to focus on their education, not where their next meal will come from.”

– Jake Ruddy, Lion’s Pantry organizer

"The founding of the Lion's Pantry is a necessary forward step for our student body. The creation of a food bank for students by students will help ensure that everyone is receiving the nourishment they need," said Meaghan DeMallie, Penn State Panhellenic Council. "Because We all Are, we must support each other. The Panhellenic Association at Penn State is eager to support this cause."

In the near future, Lion’s Pantry organizers hope to be able to serve the State College Community as well. “We have developed creative food drive ideas that should stock up our shelves,” said Mendonca. “We hope to have an excess number of donations that can be given to the State College Food Bank to serve local residents.” Lion's Pantry organizers plan to ensure their efforts will support (and not detract from) current resources that address hunger and food insecurity issues in the State College community.

The pantry will be open from 6 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 20, Dec. 4 and Dec. 11, to serve the needs of students for the fall semester. The pantry will reopen from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 15 and will be open from 6 to 8 p.m. every Thursday during the spring semester.

For more information about the Lion’s Pantry, visit http://www.sites.psu.edu/pridepantry or contact lionspantrypsu@gmail.com.

Last Updated December 15, 2014