Many SLCC students do not eat on a regular basis.
Food shortage is a growing problem in Utah. It affects students with families along with those who are single, and is a problem at colleges all over the state. SLCC students join the growing number of Utahns that are in need of food assistance.
International student Julian Mimao has a hard time getting by. He is a nursing student from Cameroon, Africa. He has been in the States for a year and cannot find a job. Because he only has a Student Visa, as opposed to a Green Card, he is not eligible for food stamps, or any other program the state offers for those who are struggling. If it wasn’t for the food bank Mimao would not have food.
“I have a teacher who told me about the food bank. They give me lots of good food. I was suffering, but the food bank has helped,” Mimao said.
Utah bounces back and forth between fourth and seventh place in the country for food insecurity, which means individuals are missing meals on a daily basis. In the last year the Utah Food Bank has seen an increase of forty percent in people needing help. The Food Bank has increased the size of food shipments to individual food banks.
“The economy is the overriding issue, then there is the problem of so many people only getting paid minimum wage in the state. Plus the number of household dependents in Utah,” said Jessica Pugh, Public Relations Specialist for the Utah Food Bank.
For college students it is hard because they usually get paid a lower wage, and generally don’t have enough time to work very many hours.
Talya Giles is a struggling illustration student at SLCC. She works, but only part time hours. Just like a lot of college students, Giles lives pay check to pay check.
“Like a lot of college students, I live on top ramen and peanut butter and jelly,” Giles said.
Students can find help by calling 211 Information and Referral. 211 will give the information needed to locate food sources, and many other services. 211’s hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Some other options open to students are food pantries, food stamps, and Women Infants and Children (W.I.C.), for infants and mothers.
Students needing help can also go to the Thayne Center at the SLCC Taylorsville Redwood Campus. Students can receive help locating food sources at the Thayne Center. The Center will inform students where to go to apply for food stamps, where to find food bank locations, other food pantries, and soup kitchens.
“Students can go to the Thayne Center for help with any need that isn’t being met,” student volunteer Whitney Rose said.
The Thayne Center also promotes a non-profit organization named The Community Food Co-Op of Utah. The Co-Op offers food packages at affordable prices. A meal package that feeds a family of four for a week is $24, a meat only package is $15, and a vegetable only package is $10.
There is a Co-Op distribution center located on the Taylorsville Redwood Campus, in portable 10, on Redwood Road between 4445 South and the pedestrian crossing bridge.
“We are going to try and make a food pantry here on campus. It is a future goal,” said Linnie Spor, the Thayne Center’s Service and Leadership Coordinator. “We’ll need the help from students that can donate to make it work.”
The Utah Food Bank needs three main things in order to be open: food, volunteer time, and volunteers. Only eight percent of the Food Bank’s inventory is donated food from the community. Community donations total fifty five percent of the Food Bank’s budget. Information about the Food Bank can be found at www.utahfoodbank.org
“For many people we are a source of hope. We help so people can pay their bills and put food on the table,” Pugh said.