Food insecurity is a concern that many college students have. For some, their next meal may not be a guarantee. A study conducted in 2016 determined 38% of students at the University of Arkansas have encountered food insecurity.
The Jane B. Gearhart Full Circle Food Pantry helps bridge the gap between food insecurity and college success. Established in 2011, this student-run emergency food assistance program serves individuals well-balanced meals though donations and fresh produce from their own garden. Anyone with a University ID can access the pantry.
There are multiple ways for students, staff, and faculty to get food from the pantry. While the walk-in service is their most used, the pantry features a discrete online system which allows for an order to be made and picked up during operating hours. For individuals who are unable to make it to the pantry during their normal hours, they also offer an express service that delivers orders to designated sites around Fayetteville.
During homecoming week this semester, the food pantry hosted the 3rd annual Pack the Pantry event. This event is held to rally the campus together to fill up the pantry before the holiday season. With a goal of collecting 19,000 donated items, groups could drop off items at the pantry or in the predetermined pickup locations around campus. Greek life organizations were able to schedule times to drop off large donations for the pantry.
The pantry raised more than 23,000 items, exceeding their goal by a great margin.
Kolten Long, the food drive coordinator for the Volunteer Action Center, said that the Pack the Pantry event is essential to the pantry to ensure those in need can get the food and other items they really need before the semester ends.
“It provides us with a lot of stuff to get us through the semester,” Long said, “until we do more drives.”
“We are always in need of personal hygiene items. These items are in high demand and adds to basic human dignity,” McCoy said.
Anyone can contribute to the pantry by donating items, cash, organizing food drives, or volunteering their time to help out their community. Transit and Parking is organizing their own food drive from now until December 12th, which is the last day of classes for the fall semester. It is easy for anyone to organize a drive. The center for community engagement will provide the bins if needed and pick them up as soon as your drive is over. They want to make the process as seamless as possible.
Volunteers make the food pantry possible. Volunteer applications are available during the first week of each semester. More information about the food pantry can be found here.