Students in need find reprieve

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Photo credit: Laura Fox

College students are notorious for living the “college life,” which may include eating nothing but Ramen noodles and peanut butter sandwiches for weeks, and using the free condiments on campus to make those items a bit more palatable.

Some students may even experience a “food desert,” which is a geographical area where affordable and healthy food is difficult to obtain, including fresh green vegetables and grains. Particularly for those without access to a car or bike, food deserts also exist in rural areas and low-income communities. But it may also exist in your cupboards and pantries as a college student.

UVU students are no strangers to poverty; as with any other university, students here tend to work full time in addition to school and social activities. But living expenses sometimes take all funds, leaving other necessities, such as food, at the bottom of the totem pole.

The UVU Volunteer & Service-Learning Center, along with Community Action Services and Food Bank, sponsors an on-campus food pantry for students who are in need.

The purpose of the food pantry is to decrease student food insecurity, increase healthy eating choices and help improve student retention numbers. The pantry is located in the Losee Center room 205, which is the main desk area.

Over the past year only 191 students have visited the pantry and received the much-needed food. Though that’s only around 3 or 4 students a week, the need is there, even if only for those few students.

Students and faculty can fill out a form to qualify where they sign a statement of need. You must be enrolled and taking at least 6 credits. Be sure you bring in your student ID. During summer semesters, students and faculty don’t need to be actively enrolled to use the pantry services.

Students who visit the food pantry can choose from the canned or packaged items, or any of the pre-packed food boxes in the pantry. These boxes are available for family sizes of two to four and include canned fruits, canned vegetables and boxed dinners such as Macaroni and Cheese.

You can either bring in your own bag or one can be provided for you.  The pantry is open to students and faculty Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For students that want to help out, there are volunteer opportunities available and won’t take up much time. Just contact the volunteer center by going in or emailing them directly at [email protected].

There is also a volunteer pamphlet rack that you can sift through and find opportunities to serve the community. It is located in the Student Center on the second floor next to the stairs.

Though the pantry can supplement the non-perishable aspect, there are many other resources around the valley that can aid financially strapped students.

Bountiful Baskets is a type of food co-op where you can pick up fresh vegetables and breads for a fraction of the price. The baskets are around $20, which is much better than most grocery stores, and you usually get more than you can eat. There are usually pick up destinations in your city or even neighborhoods.

Also, the Provo Food and Care Coalition has daily meals, breakfast and dinner with sack lunches for free with no questions asked.  They are located at 299 E 900 S?Provo, UT. Usually there is a section of food that can be taken as well, usually baked goods and a few canned foods.

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