Food for Thought

By Nicole Willared

Flapjack Chronicle

“Don’t you think they’re trying to get at the fact that HSU students spend their money on weed, alcohol, and shots?” — Mark Muzzini, HSU student. 

HSU students are hungry. But a recent survey doesn’t support creation of a campus food pantry, instead encouraging students to use existing outside campus resources. According to the Student Food Security Needs Survey recently taken at HSU, food insecurity exists at HSU and appears to impact junior and senior students.

The survey says: “About 50 percent were first-time college students and about 48 percent were Pell Grant recipients, indicating that they might be low income.”  The survey also says there appears to be a potential for volunteers to support food access to the community. This most likely means a person is willing to give another person a banana if he’s hungry.

The survey was conducted mid-April by the California Campus Compact Community Engagement Student Fellowship and the survey’s goal was to better understand the needs of the students regarding issues of hunger and food insecurity in order to provide better student services.

Jimmy Barnett of the Service Learning Department wrote and conducted the survey with limited time and resource available to the effort.

“We wanted to know what might encompass different aspects of food insecurity,” Barnett said. “If students experienced lack of food, lack of access to that food, lack of access to nutritious food as well as food preferences related to health issues such as allergies.

The survey says many HSU students are hungry but you probably will not hear them admit it. Three people interviewed for this story said they received the hunger survey but didn’t take it.

Vice President of Student Affairs Peg Blake said she was inspired with the idea of focusing on hunger needs of HSU students when she attended the NASPA Regional Conference in Maryland.

“There are other CSU campuses focusing on students hunger needs,” Blake said. “Oregon State created a food pantry to meet the needs of their students.” The survey also revealed the results of a case study revealing the solutions other CSUs implemented when providing a solution for their student’s hunger needs.

“Of these universities, three had some form of an established food pantry,” the survey says. “Two of which have partnered with their local food bank.”

Again, according to the survey, a campus food pantry is not a recommended solution for HSU students.  Rather, a partnership with an already established organization, specifically Food for People will be the likely solution.

“Food for People does not have the resources to create another pantry at HSU,” the survey says. “It was suggested that the pantry one block away from campus be utilized.”

Garrett Freehling is a 21 year-old student at HSU majoring in business administration. Freehling was asked what students might worry about most when going to a food bank off campus.

“They don’t want to look bad going to food banks,” Freehling said. “It’s a social constriction.” Freehling’s buddy is 21-year-old marketing major, Mark Muzzini. Muzzini agreed and said a person not wanting to look bad going to a food bank has to do with normative influence and fear of lack of social acceptance.

I overheard a fellow student say that if they had to choose between spending their seven dollars on cigarettes or on food, they would choose the cigarettes. “Don’t you think they’re trying to get at the fact that HSU students spend their money on weed, alcohol, and shots?” Muzzini said regarding the survey.

Addiction aside-the survey says Food for People has the capacity to serve HSU students with the existing Arcata pantry. Ivy Matheny is the Distribution Coordinator for Food for People in Eureka.  Matheny expressed the importance of anonymity when it comes to people in need.

“We ask that client identities as well as volunteer identities are kept confidential,” Matheny said, “and that the pantry and any other program spaces are respected as private zones.”

Food For People flyers will soon be circulating around the campus. Raising awareness of the organization is another survey recommendation.

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