CLAYTON, Mo. – Food insecurity is a common issue both locally and nationwide. A Wisconsin HOPE Lab survey reported that 36 percent of students at 66 surveyed colleges and universities do not get enough to eat. With this issue occurring across the nation, higher education institutions are doing more to help their community.
In the spring of 2018, Jamie Daugherty, Assistant Professor at Fontbonne University, said that some of her students did a needs assessment and identified that there was a need on campus.
“In addition to that, we have over one-third of our students who are Pell Grant recipients, which means they have a high need for assistance with going to college from a financial standpoint,” Daugherty said.
Daugherty said the university has recently started the Fontbonne Promise for first-year, first-time freshmen with zero anticipated family contribution the opportunity to enroll for college at Fontbonne and not have to pay as much.
“It’s kind of debt-free college education. As an extension of that, they are going to need these other services,” Daugherty said.
After noting how many students in colleges and universities do not get to eat, Fontbonne University wanted to do something to help and destigmatize the need for having to need food.
Fontbonne University students, faculty and staff celebrated the grand opening of The Griffin Pantry on Thursday, to serve those in need in the Fontbonne community, with a commemorative ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The Griffin Pantry was established in November of 2018 with the help of Fontbonne University graduate students Jessica Sedlacek and Angel Dobill. The pantry has been stocked from on-campus donations.
During the ribbon cutting, Daugherty mentioned that the pantry received a grant from the Fontbonne Community Connection totaling $12,000 to get the pantry established.
“It is available for faculty, staff and students,” Daugherty said. “If you would like to take those in times of need. It can be a one-time thing, it can be a semester need, it can be more than a semester need.”
Daugherty mentioned that college is expensive and students need support. The Griffin Pantry is one of Fontbonne University’s students’ support services.
“Whether you need it or a friend needs it, please send them this way,” she said.
Daugherty said it would be fun if the pantry was a social space for students, faculty and staff to come to and get food, prep meals, find other resources, take nutrition education classes from the Dietetics Department and food lab.
“We would make those demonstrations, other kinds of outreach efforts in order to allow them to have nutritious food,” Daugherty said.
Sedlacek noted that a lot of background and research went into developing a baseline plan for The Griffin Pantry would be started, as well as getting donations and organizing the space. She said marketing and partnerships throughout the community really helped to get the pantry started.
“This semester [is] about working to sustain the food pantry and working with other community partners to really make sure this is sustained throughout not only the rest of the school year but continues on past that,” Dobill said.
Sedlacek and Dobill will be finishing school in May and graduating in December, but they hope to continue to pop in to help and volunteer during their extra time.
“There’s a lot of moving parts right now that we’re still trying to figure out, but we still plan to be partly involved throughout the year,” Sedlacek said.
Being Dietetic Interns, Dobill mentioned that to be part of The Griffin Pantry is a great experience because it is something that will potentially be part of what they do in their professional careers.
“To be part of starting it and creating it and bringing it all the way through is a really cool experience,” she said.
The pantry will be accepting non-perishable food items such as canned goods, crackers, granola bars, instant potatoes, dried fruit, spaghetti sauce, oatmeal and macaroni and cheese. The pantry will also be accepting toiletries and personal care items including laundry detergent, toilet paper and dish soap.
In addition to collecting items to help those in the Fontbonne community, The Griffin Pantry will also provide nutrition and culinary education in the form of meal kits. Those in need will have the opportunity to take home complete meals with recipe cards.
Those who are interested in donating to the pantry may do so on Mondays and Thursdays from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm and Wednesdays from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Faculty along with Daugherty oversee the operation of the pantry. Graduate assistants and volunteers will be helping to stock the pantry as well as provide educational material and outreach.
More information about the pantry can be found online.