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Mobile Food Pantry Helps Combat Food Insecurity

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Mobile Food Pantry Helps Combat Food Insecurity

Student volunteers passing out fruits and vegetables to fellow students and the Westchester community.

Student volunteers passing out fruits and vegetables to fellow students and the Westchester community.

Callie Anderson

Student volunteers passing out fruits and vegetables to fellow students and the Westchester community.

Callie Anderson

Callie Anderson

Student volunteers passing out fruits and vegetables to fellow students and the Westchester community.

Callie Anderson, Contributing Writer

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Few things excite college students more than free food. Oftentimes, students may attend campus events just for the free food.

This past Thursday, the Pace Mobile Food Pantry came to distribute free food to the Pace community. This event, taking place in the North Hall parking lot, concentrated on alleviating some food insecurity on campus.

The United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security defines food security as “the condition in which all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food.”

Pace’s Mobile Food Pantry’s goal is to provide “nourishing, stigma-free, and affordable food to the Pace and Westchester community.”

Pace partners with Feeding Westchester to provide food resources to the community. Feeding Westchester’s website says that in Westchester, there are approximately 200,000 people who are food insecure, including 58,000 children. According to a flyer advertising the Pace Mobile Food Pantry, 47 percent of college students are food insecure. Food insecurity on college campuses is a national issue.

According to the Washington Post, food insecurity on college campuses is getting worse. College is getting increasingly expensive with costs of education rising and growing enrollment of low-income students.

Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor of higher education policy at Temple University, surveyed 43,000 students across 66 colleges and universities to report on the issue of food insecurity. She found that thousands of students are skipping meals or eating small meals because they do not have enough money to afford food.

With so many college students experiencing food insecurity, it is important to look at not only what is going on at a national level, but also what is going on at Pace.

This was the first time that the Mobile Food Pantry has come to Pace. It will come three more times throughout the semester.

The Mobile Food Pantry provided mostly fruits and vegetables including watermelons, apples, tomatoes, potatoes, grapes, oranges, onions, and bananas.

Pace also has a food distribution center in Elm Hall. This center is open eight times throughout the semester.

Dates and times for both the food pantry and the distribution center are on Pace’s website.

The main food source for students on campus is the dining hall in the Kessel Student Center. Multiple students at the Mobile Food Pantry event claimed that Kessel is overpriced.

“It’s easier to eat unhealthy than it is to eat healthy. Kessel has a burger meal deal where you get a burger, fries, and a drink for seven dollars, but there’s no deal for salad to make it worth buying,” one first-year student, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

“Pace has access to nutritious food, but it’s priced highly,” said Stephanie Simoes. “A lot of the food sold in Kessel is priced way too high for what it’s worth. For example, I had just recently realized that a Chobani yogurt that’s worth a dollar at the grocery store is priced at $4 at Kessel. I have sometimes skipped meals due to Kessel being expensive. I find it not worth it to always spend money at Kessel especially when the food some days can be disappointing.”

Pace’s meal plans range from $500 to $2,400 dollars a semester. The Blue plan, which is the least expensive meal plan, is based on students eating about seven meals a week on campus. The Bronze through Platinum plans budget for students to eat 15 to 21 meals per week.

Low-income students are more likely to opt for less expensive meal plans. But then they are also more likely to have to skip meals, eat less food, or eat food that is unhealthy and cheaper in order to stay within their meal plan budget.

While food insecurity will continue to be an issue at Pace and across all college and university campuses across the country, the Mobile Food Pantry and the food distribution center are a couple of first steps that Pace has taken to combat it.

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