Before the end of Spring 2019, Ithaca College will establish a permanent food pantry on campus in the Campus Center. The funding for the food pantry was donated by David Lissy ’87, who said he was inspired by the discussions he had with the administration about how donors could better help their campus community. The Food Insecurity Working Group will be finalizing the details of the pantry.
For years, food insecurity has been an ongoing issue on our campus, resulting in many students’ struggle to balance the high costs of tuition and meal plans with academics. Prior to the announcement of the permanent food pantry, there were some resources put in place by the college to address these issues, like Swipe Out Hunger and the mobile food pantry. However, while these initiatives were admirable, they were mostly short-term fixes that failed to address the structural problems that permitted food insecurity to happen on our campus.
In comparison, the addition of a permanent food pantry solely for our campus is indicative of the college creating a sustainable, reliable solution to food insecurity. In November 2018, several student organizations collaborated and held a panel discussion in which students were able to voice their concerns about students’ not having enough food on campus and their possible solutions to the problem. The college’s Office of Student Affairs and Campus Life sponsored the discussion, enabling it to take place.
A solution to food insecurity being developed shortly after the discussion demonstrates that the college is working to create a more sustainable environment for students. As students mentioned during the panel discussion, food insecurity is an added stressor on many college students, forcing them to balance the troubles of food insecurity, work and academics. By establishing a permanent food pantry, the college is taking a step toward eliminating this stress for its students.
Considering the high prices of meal plans at the college — and that the ones that cost the least have too few meal swipes for a student to live on — the permanent food pantry is a much-needed addition to our campus. Outpricing individuals at risk of food insecurity from meal plans and food on campus is a major contributor to making the college, and higher education institutions as a whole, inaccessible to many students — both prospective and those already enrolled.
While this change may not entirely solve food insecurity on our campus, it is a change that signifies a shift in how the college will be able to handle the issue moving forward. With the necessary funding for a permanent food pantry, students facing food insecurity will be able to get food more consistently than they have in the past. Ultimately, this addition to campus is an improvement that should be commended. Students’ easy access to the food they need to be fully nourished and functioning is an essential need on campuses, and by establishing this food pantry, the college is working toward fulfilling that.
Moving forward, the college should remain steadfast in its attempt to resolve food insecurity on our campus. The college should continue to encourage dialogues about the struggles of being food insecure and continue to take note of how students may still be struggling even after the addition of the food pantry.