Southern Utah University hosted a food drive with Lin’s Fresh Market, aimed at fighting food insecurity among SUU students. The Community Engagement Center as well as the athletics department collaborated on this initiative. The food drive began Monday, Sept. 25, and concluded Saturday evening. The donations were weighed and displayed at the football game.
The food drive goal is 10,000 pounds, roughly equivalent to the combined weight of the football team’s offensive line. As of Wednesday, 1,300 pounds have been collected so far.
Forty-nine percent of SUU students experience food insecurity each year. The Community Engagement Center’s HOPE Pantry works to help support students when they’re struggling. Pantry use increased 73% last year from the prior year, and they are expecting another huge jump in use this year. This September, The Hope Pantry has already exceeded the most student visits in one month recorded last year.
“Being hungry or worried about finances for food or eating nutritionally poorly makes it hard to succeed in class and other college-related endeavors,” said Pam Branin, director of the Community Engagement Center, parent organization to the HOPE Pantry. “I want students to succeed and thrive while they’re here; food is basic to that. Even one can helps!”
Although the food drive has ended, people who are interested in contributing to the HOPE Pantry can drop off non-perishable donations in Room 120 of the Sharwan Smith Student Center.
“The Hope Pantry has some items that they need more than others,” said Scott Allen, a representative from the athletics department. “Canned meats, canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, pasta. Those are some of the items that they go through quickly, so if the community is looking to help, those would be a priority!”
Additional information about the HOPE Pantry and their ongoing work can be found at www.suu.edu/hope-pantry/.
Author: Emily Walters
Photographers: Marie Tuite and Pam Branin
Editor: Nick Stein