Student hunger is real and has painful consequences. A 2018 survey in the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition found that 43.5% of students face food insecurity during their college careers.
Many SOU students struggle to afford the cost of living (i.e. groceries, housing, enrollment, and other personal expenses). Students are investing time, energy, and money into an education that [generally] does not compensate them in return; at least, not in the short term. This puts undergraduate students at a higher risk for food and financial difficulties.
The SOU Food Pantry addresses food insecurity head on by providing regular and free access to up to 10 food and/or personal hygiene items per student each week. Between January 1 and December 31, 2022, there were 926 student visits to the SOU Food Pantry, with usage by the fall seeing a four-fold increase over the year before. While it’s not possible to know with certainly the reasons for this sudden and drastic increase in demand, we aim to meet that demand as a community with our annual February Food Drive.
Last year, during the 2022 SOU February Food Drive, the SOU community, with the support of the regional community, raised the value equivalent of 18,636 meals for SOU students facing insecurity. In 2023, the February Food Drive goal is to raise the equivalent of 20,000 meals! Hitting this ambitious goal will mean counting on the SOU community and all of Southern Oregon to continue to grow this annual philanthropic tradition.
…“I dont have money to frequently go to the grocery [store]… [the Food Pantry] was able to give me easy food that I could make when I didn’t really have any other ingredients.”
“[The Food Pantry is] a very nice resource for poor college students who are hungry. I personally try to get milk whenever I go but other than that I’ll grab an apple or granola bar to keep me in pursuit throughout the day.”
“[I go to the Food Pantry] when I am in between grocery trips, and don’t have enough money to go back, but need something to sustain me until I get paid again. When I go I usually take the non perishable meals like mac and cheese and such.”
“[I go to the Food Pantry to avoid] spending my money on overpriced food at the store… It’s difficult to go to class hungry or try to study… on an empty stomach.”
I go to the Food Pantry because of a “[lack] of money for food.”
“During the school year, I can’t work enough to pay rent, bills, books, parking etc. and cover all food costs.”
Frankly, without the food pantry, I… would have to drop out of college. Tuition and other fees (like parking and books) eat up all my paychecks especially since I have to cut back on my hours during the school year to study. My roommate and I depend on the food pantry to get necessary food like canned fruits and veggies that we just wouldn’t be able to afford. We likely would only be able to eat macaroni and ramen without the food pantry which isn’t enough to truly support the level of work I do or the studying I need to do for my degree.”