By Olivia Gerling and Sam Mosher
Forty-eight percent of college students reported food insecurity in the past 30 days, according to a survey of nearly 4,000 students.
Tiger Pantry began a pilot program this year to help students with food insecurity. The program would allow students to transfer up to 10 meal credits at a time to Tiger Pantry. However, they can fill out the form multiple times.
Tiger Pantry is an auxiliary of the Central and Northeast Missouri Food Bank. The program works closely with the University of Missouri to provide food and other assistance to anyone affiliated with the university.
The implementation of the pilot program would aid its efforts. Wendy Sims, a professor of Music Education at MU, partnered with Ted Tarkow, Associate Dean of Arts and Science, to create the program.
“The starting point really was a conversation with a student in one of my classes a year ago,” Tarkow said. “The student just mentioned he had a lot of meal swipes left on his plan.”
At the end of a semester, any meal swipes left on a student’s meal plan expires. This often results in some students stockpiling food from dining halls in hopes of using up meal swipes.
“[The student] mentioned that he was going to buy some bottled water and some potato chips and some candy and just stock it away for next semester,” Tarkow said.
Despite some students having an excess of meal swipes, others run out of meal swipes and may not be able to afford more. Forty-seven percent of students at a four-year college fall into the category of food insecure, while 20 percent identify as very food insecure.
If a student skips a meal or two during the week, they can go onto the Tiger Pantry website and donate the meal swipes through Campus Dining Services.
“There are some students at MU who are, as they say, food insecure. They do not know from day-to-day where they are going to get meals,” Tarkow said. “Part of the initiative is to allow students to help students.”
Campus Dining and Tiger Pantry will keep track of how much use the program gets throughout the semester before assessing whether to continue into the following semesters.
“Food insecurity is something that you shouldn’t have to deal with as a college student,” Director of the Tiger Pantry Rachel Volmert said. “And with this swipes program, you can be on campus, use your card just like every other person and get a full meal.”
Edited by Aviva Okeson-Haberman | firstname.lastname@example.org