Feed 'Em Up Kats
Sept. 5, 2018
SHSU Media Contact: Wes Hamilton
Written by Meioshia Omesiete
The food is moving. That is not necessarily something you would want to hear at the dinner table, but after four years of progress, the Food Pantry at Sam Houston State University is changing departments from Student Success Initiatives to the Office of the Dean of the College of Health Sciences.
An organization born from the heart of students, the Food Pantry seeks to serve Bearkats who suffer from food insecurity, which is not having consistent access to quality, nutritious food. Through distribution days and large-scale events on campus, all made possible by generous donations, more than 2,000 students have been fed to date. Candice Wilson, program coordinator of Student Success Initiatives and current faculty advisor for the food pantry, says the change will be good for the group.
“I have enjoyed the challenges and triumphs of advising this organization, of serving students and of educating the SHSU community on the reality of food insecurity,” Wilson said. “I want to see the pantry continue to grow, so I believe that the College of Health Sciences will be a great new home for it. I’m really excited for the ways that the food pantry will benefit from the expertise and passion for health in the College of Health Sciences.”
One large-scale event that happens regularly is Feed The Growl, where the Houston Food Bank brings a truck of fresh produce to SHSU. Students leave with bags of food and can get help signing up for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits. Another organization on campus, Bearkat Community Gardens, provides Grade A produce to give students homegrown options.
“The Pantry was originally a student's idea. As soon as I heard about the idea I was eager to help, and I joined the advisory board while the pantry was still in the planning stages,” said Martin E. Malandro, associate professor of Mathematics. “Food insecurity is a major problem for many of our students, and I'm glad I've been able to help fight against this problem in some small way.”
According to a survey of SHSU students in 2014, over 50 percent of respondents indicated that they had experienced food insecurity in recent months. That led Amber Spell, senior computer science major, to spearhead the effort to the initial operation. With an advisory board of nine faculty and staff as well as consistent student leadership, the groundwork for an organization that tackled a significant social problem was laid. A lot of teamwork went in to creating the food pantry.
“I often equate the Food Pantry student organization to a small child that has been nurtured and cultivated by a village who is now able to watch it blossom and transition into its next phase in life,” Spell said. “Being a part of building the foundation of the Food Pantry has been both a gratifying and humbling experience that will forever be etched in my memory. I look forward to the new hands that will water this organization.”
The departmental shift is sure to be a beneficial one and another stage in the progression of the Food Pantry’s efforts. Rodney Runyan, dean of the College of Health Sciences, says they are eager to house the Food Pantry.
“It is a natural fit for COHS to take a leadership role in health and wellness for our student body through ensuring the Student Food Pantry is sustainable,” said Runyan. “Food insecurity affects a significant number of college students. Both the causes and effects of food insecurity impact the health and well-being of our students, and the community in which we live.”
The Food Pantry@SHSU is located in ABIII Room 113 and is open for distributions twice a month. For more information about the Food Pantry visit www.shsu.edu/foodpantry or email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow their facebook page.
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