Indiana State University Student Takes Action Against Student Hunger

Steve Boyer, a junior at Indiana State University, has taken action to help his fellow university students who are finding it difficult to pay for food, with the creation of an on campus food pantry. Boyer noticed that some of his peers struggled with affording food after paying out high tuition costs, room and board and other required learning materials and turned to the university for help.

The United Campus Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping students, worked closely with Boyer to bring his idea of a campus food pantry to life. Their hard work now allows students to have access to free food on campus every Wednesday and helps to make the times when finances are too tight to afford the most basic of needs a little less stressful.

ISU office manager Carrie Stone, recounts times when she encountered hungry students, saying “Students were coming in hungry. We’d make lunch or have oatmeal packets to give them, but it just kept going on and on.” Witnessing the need for food assistance firsthand brought her to work with UCM and Boyer to get the food pantry up and running.

Boyer used statistics to determine the amount of students in need of food assistance on campus along with the research collected by Stone and UCM. The food pantry set up at Oregon State University served as inspiration and a wealth of information during the development process as well. OSU is able to serve around 2,500 students each year according to school officials.

OSU’s human services resource center coordinator Clare Cady, says “Many students have told me that without our pantry they may have stopped school.”

Currently 43% of the students at ISU rely on Pell Grants to cover the cost of tuition, but the grants do not offer support outside of tuition and students are required to find their own means to pay for all other expenses. This can be difficult for some students as they are at times from low income backgrounds without a financial safety net to fall into resulting in necessities like food to fall by the wayside.

Harvard senior lecturer and sociologist Julie Boatright Wilson believes that offering resources to students, like food pantries, as vital to investing in the future of our country.

Wilson says, “Having a larger share of the labor force with college degrees will not only help the country meet its changing workforce needs, but also help reduce the national poverty rate and thereby the number of people relying on income support and other social service programs. Going to class, studying and holding down part time jobs to pay for college is demanding. We need to support them through this stage in their life.”

Students are getting involved with the food pantry to help those in need and the community surrounding the campus has been equally as supportive with donations of money and food. At an open house held last Friday at the pantry, brought in a donation of $20,000 from the charity 100+ Women Who Care.

UCM, Boyer and Stone continue to work hard drumming up awareness of the food issues on campus along with continued work to bring in more donations.

So far the ISU food pantry has only been open twice, but 25 students have also signed up for assistance. Stone says, “We’re very new, so hopefully it’ll pick up a lot.”

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