Are you aware of food insecurity on campus?
“I was not aware that students were struggling to pay for food,” said sophomore Davie Goldie. “We have to pay an insane amount to go to this school, and it could be a lot to manage for some people.”
According to the Associated Press, “A poll has found 23% of Americans say that they have not been able to get enough to eat or the kinds of foods they want. Most enrolled in a government or nonprofit food assistance program in the past year, but 58% still had difficulty accessing at least one service.”
While food insecurity has always been an issue, it has recently worsened because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Sacred Heart University offers some programs that are available for students, such as SHU Shares.
According to Sacred Heart’s website, “SHU Shares works to address and bring awareness to the food insecurity needs within our campus. The program strives toward inclusivity and helps to remove the stigma associated with food insecurity.”
Through the program, students can voluntarily donate a meal swipe, request a meal swipe, or make a monetary donation online to assist other students who may be struggling.
In a video on the Sacred Heart website, Dr. Petillo, President of Sacred Heart, said, “Four out of 10 college students in the U.S. experience food insecurity while on campus.”
Not only is the school making steps to help out their own students, but Sacred Heart Dining will also be assisting those in other areas as well.
“We encourage working with local food banks and pantries,” said Kayla Hawley, Marketing Director for Sacred Heart Dining. “Sacred Heart is currently working with an organization in the Fairfield area to coordinate donations in our local community as well. This is a joint effort that we are working on with Volunteer Programs and Service Learning.”
While food insecurity affects all demographics, there are some groups who are more affected than others, especially in the local area.
According to the Associated Press, “Black and Hispanic Americans, Americans living below the poverty line and younger adults are especially likely to face food challenges.”
The town of Bridgeport is located next to Fairfield, with a significant number of people who fall within these numbers.
According to the United States Census Bureau taken in 2019, 35.1% of the population is Black or African American, 40.8% of the population is Hispanic or Latino, and 21.8% of the population is persons in poverty.
One of the nonprofit organizations in Bridgeport that seeks to relieve those in poverty is the Green Village Initiative (GVI) through their four core programs: reservoir community farm, school gardens, youth leadership program and urban roots community garden.
According to the GVI’s website, “The mission is to grow food, knowledge, leadership and community through urban gardening and farming, to create a just food system in Bridgeport.”
While this is only one of the many organizations, both on and off campus, that seek to alleviate food insecurity, some students have found that these programs are beneficial for others in need of assistance.
“It sounds like an amazing program,” said sophomore Jenna Ender. “The Green Village Initiative allows people to volunteer and help out the community, and even helping one person can make the world a better place.”