Student hunger continues to be a problem, but the Thayne Center and Salt Lake Community College are doubling their efforts to solve the issue on campus.
The Bruin Campus Cupboard re-opened its doors earlier this month at Taylorsville Redwood Campus. Previously exclusive to South City Campus, the pantry now provides dual operating storehouses to help students meet their grocery demands.
Thanks to a focused campaign to raise awareness of food insecurity at SLCC, the Utah Food Bank is lending substantial help by expanding food resources available to students. Ramen and vending machines will no longer be the staple of diets for SLCC students; the food bank also concentrates on providing diverse and nutritious selections. The Bruin Campus Cupboard is available to all students and faculty with a valid OneCard.
“If the Thayne Center is open, then the [Redwood] food pantry is open,” says Sean Crossland, director of the Thayne Center. “We never sell products, we’re doing our best to distribute [items] in an equal and fair manner. We have to have logs for all of our refrigeration units to make sure that they are maintaining temperatures to keep the food safe.”
Food insecurity is defined as the lack of reliable access to sufficient quantities of affordable, nutritious food. According to a 2016 study published by the National Student Campaign Against Hunger & Homelessness, 25 percent of community college students qualified as having very low food security. The study also concluded that “more than half of all first-generation students (56 percent) were food insecure, compared to 45 percent who had at least one parent who attended college.”
Recent studies have demonstrated that nutrition affects a student’s academic performance, and SLCC is not the only college realizing the shocking number of students who go hungry. Many other institutions across the country have opened their own food pantries as well.
“One of the important things to remember is that [the pantry] is a solution to a larger problem. It is a need and something that we see as important; hungry students don’t learn as well,” Crossland says.
When asked about the mission and future of the program, Crossland is looking at several possibilities.
“We’ve had some conversations with Utahns Against Hunger to see about food stamp enrollment drives and to broaden their ability as another alternative,” he says. “We’re trying to think about how we can use that space and, ultimately, the awareness of that space to connect students to more resources … Trying to address things at the immediate level, but then also thinking about how we can move towards more systemic change.”
The Redwood Campus pantry is now located in Student Center room 015, near the Thayne Center office. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The Thayne Center is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Fridays from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Donation and volunteer opportunities are also available to those who want to help. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.