Tuition keeps going up, books keep going up, rent keeps going up. Another thing that is affecting college students: hunger. And it is not the hunger for higher education.
The Harry Chapin Food Bank serves many students in Southwest Florida, but its only pantry on a college campus is at Florida Gulf Coast University.
"The primary focus is for the students of FGCU ," Richard Leber said, the president and CEO of the Harry Chapin Food Bank, "but all of our pantries make food available to the people of the general public, if they need assistance.”
We checked with Florida Southwestern University to see if they have partnered with any food banks to provide food to students. Mark Bukowski, Dean of Students, said they don't have a direct partnership with a food pantry at this time. However, Bukowski said, "we are exploring options as part of our overall food pantry initiative and students get help on a case by case basis with the lighthouse commons internal food pantry at one of the residence halls."
Currently, Florida Southwestern University only has a food pantry at the LightHouse Commons at its Lee campus. The LightHouse Commons food pantry is stocked by donations, which are received by College-Wide Programs and various holiday luncheons, where employees bring in nonperishable food items and toiletries.
"At the moment, the items are in storage, but available to students who need them," Bukowski said.
However, Bukowski's goal is to have food pantries available in all of their locations. "The college has started plans for an establish food pantry across all of our locations with the hopes of offering services this fall," Bukowski is referring to Charlotte, Collier, and Hendry Glades Campuses.
Students at Florida Southwestern University think that having a food pantry on campus would benefit many of their classmates. “Almost half of the students are struggling, it's expensive," Ryan Burris said, a student enrolled at the Fort Myers college. "It’s not easy to go through school be able to keep your finances stable and afford everything.”
Another student, Michael Orellana, said that single moms or parents who go to college could benefit from a pantry on campus as well.
For students who may need assistance right now, The
Harry Chapin Food Bank,
offers several mobile pantries every month. Check out their online schedule for times and locations.