• UWA opens student food bank to alleviate ‘food insecurity’

    Posted: February 18, 2016

    Author: Public Relations

    The University of West Alabama will host a kickoff reception for a new student food bank on Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. on the bottom floor of the Student Union Building. The University community is invited to attend and encouraged to help stock the shelves by bringing an item to the kickoff.

    The program will serve a need that lead organizer Dr. James Robinson says is common on college campuses.

    “Stressors like empty cupboards and scraping by affect student success in learning, grades, and graduation, so addressing food insecurity on the UWA campus serves both altruistic and educational needs,” Robinson explained.

    Robinson is an assistant professor of exercise science and serves as president of Phi Kappa Phi honor society. He says he noticed a need within his students and began to research the concept of food insecurity across campus.

    The term “food insecurity” describes an individual who reports reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet with little or no indication of reduced food intake. This can progress to multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.

    “Food insecurity cuts across all demographic statuses, enrollment levels, and geographic locations,” Robinson explained. According to his research, 14.5 percent of U.S. households fall into the food insecurity category, but a staggering 59 percent of students experience the deficit.

    Robinson suggests that whether they fall into the traditional or non-traditional category, students who suffer from food insecurity see their grades suffer as well.

    “What has long been termed the ‘non-traditional’ student is fast becoming the average college student,” Robinson said, pointing out that many college students balance a busy home life and often full-time jobs while enrolled in classes. “These students are often food insecure or one missed paycheck away from being food insecure.”

    The UWA Student Food Bank will collect and distribute several different non-food items that students may need, like soap, washing powder, toothpaste, feminine hygiene products.

    “In researching other student food banks, we were advised that we include non-food items, too,” Robinson said. “According to our research, most food insecure students spend most, if not all, of their money on food and gas, so little is left over for personal products.

    The program’s supply will be housed on the bottom floor of the SUB. It’s in a location that’s easily accessible but is also discreet for those who wish to maintain some level of anonymity.

    According to Robinson, his research shows that the need for food assistance is common among college campuses, and most believe it should not be a traumatic or stigmatizing experience.

    “The food bank will be open access,” Robinson explained. “Students may utilize the bank during normal Fitness Center hours. Donated items may also be dropped off during that time. No sign in or interview is needed, as we would like for the program to remain secure and anonymous, and most of all, free.”

    Stock donations for the UWA Student Food Bank will be accepted at the facility, which is accessed at the entrance of the Fitness Center. To ensure freshness and rotated stock, there are no drop-off locations for donations. Monetary donations will be accepted as well. Donors who write a check to the UWA Foundation for direct support of the food bank can claim the tax-deductible donation, but receipts will not be given for cash donations.

    Robinson said he expects that a network of faculty, staff, volunteers, and students will develop so those who need assistance can be directed to the student food bank.

    “We will need volunteers to maintain and operate the facility, and training will be offered at least twice a year to offer guidance in maintaining a service standard that fosters a safe, caring, nurturing environment for our students,” he explained. “We hope to also establish a listing of food suppliers or other organizations willing to donate items or provide financial assistance, as well.”

    To volunteer or donate to the UWA Student Food Bank or to learn more about the program, email Dr. James Robinson or call 205-652-3441.

    TOP NEEDS





    • Peanut butter
    • Canned or packaged tuna
    • Canned or packaged chicken
    • Canned pasta and meat meals: beef ravioli, spaghetti & meatballs, beef stew, chicken & dumplings
    • Canned soups
    • Canned stews
    • Canned chili
    • Canned beans
    • Canned vegetables
    • Canned Fruits
    • Dry cereals
    • Instant oatmeal: individual packets
    • Instant mashed potatoes: individual packets
    • Laundry detergent
    • Toiletries: bar soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorants, shampoos, lotions, feminine hygiene items, Tylenol, Advil, cough drops  
     
    OTHER NEEDS
    • Can openers
    • Plastic utensils
    • Plastic or paper plates
    • Squeeze bottles of jelly
    • Easy Mac & Cheese
    • Granola and cereal bars
    • Raisins or other dried fruits
    • Spam
    • Vienna sausages
    • Ramen noodle bowls
    • Microwave popcorn
    • Juice packs
    • Dehydrated drink mixes
     



     

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