Students Fight Food Insecurity by Proposing Food Pantry for USFSP Campus

Feed-A-Bull, the USF Tampa food pantry, has distributed more than 24,000 pounds of food to students in need.

Feed-A-Bull, the USF Tampa food pantry, has distributed more than 24,000 pounds of food to students in need.

(Nov. 21, 2018) – A student-driven initiative to establish a food pantry at USF St. Petersburg could help fend off hunger for students living with food insecurity on and off campus.

Lead by undergraduates in Ingrid Brendenberg’s Leading Diverse Teams class, the proposal could see USFSP adopt a food pantry similar to Feed-A-Bull, the USF Tampa food pantry that has distributed more than 24,000 pounds of food to students in need.

Studies paint a troubling picture of food security on college campuses. Up to half of all undergrad students experience food insecurity, according to a 2017 study. This year researchers found that nearly 30 percent of college students are hungry nationwide.

“Both resident and commuter students are affected by food insecurity,” said Noah Miller, a Psychology major who worked on the proposal. “We want to bring this problem to light on campus and show that we have a space for these students to get food, no matter what.”

Along with classmates Galina Gorelenkova, Melanie Olmo, Joanne Rivera and Sarah Stanaland, Miller set out to create a proposal modeled on USF Tampa’s Feed-A-Bull program. Their proposal involved establishing a safe space for collection and distribution; raising awareness about food insecurity, poverty, and health at USFSP; and encouraging other students to get involved with the food pantry.

There are many apparent benefits of food security—from better nutrition and mental health to improved focus in class and higher GPAs.

“This all goes back to making sure our students can be more successful in the classroom,” said Dwayne Isaacs, Director of Student Life and Engagement. “Students who are suffering from food insecurity find it more difficult to focus on the academic challenges that they face in college.”

Isaacs said the proposal demonstrates USFSP students’ willingness to identify and solve issues present on campus. “This is a problem that students found and it will be a problem that students solve,” he said. “We want to commend students for identifying issues like this.”

The food pantry proposal will now be taken to the university leadership for approval before seeking possible funding routes and a location.