College is supposed to be challenging. For many students, the struggle goes beyond the rigors of academics.
Twenty-nine percent of OHIO undergraduates on the Athens Campus who participated in a 2017 national basic needs study reported having low or very low food security. They were skipping meals, reducing portion sizes and, sometimes, going without food altogether.
“When students don’t have enough to eat, they are more likely to miss class, drop out of school, have a harder time paying attention, and experience other challenges, including mental health issues,” explains Kathy Fahl, assistant dean of students.
In April 2017, Ohio University launched the Baker University Center Food Pantry, open to members of the OHIO and local communities and fully stocked thanks to the generosity of University employees, students, alumni, parents and donors.
During the 2018 fall semester, approximately 8,700 pounds of food was donated through personal giving and student and office food drives. In November, OHIO’s first-ever Giving Tuesday campaign encouraged donors to support the food pantry, and more than 260 donors gave over $15,000 to help Bobcats in need.
According to Fahl, those who have used the pantry and completed an anonymous survey about their experience have shared how the pantry is helping to fill a real need in their lives, with one user saying it makes them feel “taken care of by their community.”
“Student success is the No. 1 priority for our entire community,” Fahl says. “In helping to provide lifelines to students struggling to secure the basic necessities of life, we, in partnership with those who support our efforts, are paving the way for student success every day.”