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2015 March 16 - 11:34 pm

Food Pantry Helps Hungry Indiana Students

Traffic on the Increase as Campus Ministries Pantry Fights Food Insecurity

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — Almost four months after it opened its doors, United Campus Ministries’ food pantry continues to fill college students’ food needs.

The Rev. Sharon Smith, UCM campus minister, said more students are coming to the pantry, located at 321 N. Seventh St. in the midst of the Indiana State University campus. “It is growing in a sense that we have more and more kids coming every week,” Smith told the Tribune-Star (http://bit.ly/1MUGcqa ), “so we feel like we’re definitely meeting a need.”

The food pantry opened on Oct. 29, 2014. It was prompted by student research regarding college students’ food insecurity and the need for a food pantry that served students. Soon, community organizations, including 100+ Women Who Care, showed support. The response from the community has been “overwhelming,” Smith said.

“As students came to participate in our program, it became evident that we had hungry kids on campus,” Smith said. The food pantry is a response to that need.

Open on Wednesdays, Smith said the food pantry has been serving about 10 to 20 students weekly. One student, who regularly comes to the pantry, spoke about how it has helped her personally.

“It’s helped us out a lot,’’ said Mariah Manley, an Indiana State freshman. “It’s a great way to save money on food,” she said, adding that because it is located near campus, it is also convenient for students who might want to go between classes.

Another freshman, Ty Johnson, had his hands full of non-perishable food after visiting the pantry. He learned about the food pantry through word of mouth.

“I got plenty of bottled water,” he said, plus crackers, oatmeal, straws, noodles and carrots. He said the pantry is helpful to him financially because he is able to receive free food, instead of purchasing it from the store.

The pantry is for any student from five colleges in the Vigo County area: Ivy Tech Community College-Wabash Valley, ISU, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and Harrison College. The student needs to show a valid student ID from any of those colleges.

Smith said a majority of students who come to the pantry are from ISU, but some are also from Rose-Hulman and Ivy Tech.

The door is also open for people who would like to help. Smith said the pantry welcomes non-perishable food donations, particularly spaghetti sauce, canned soups, breakfast cereals and spaghetti noodles. Spaghetti, she said, is a “big seller with college kids.”

The pantry is accepting personal hygiene items, because those who can’t afford food often have trouble purchasing those too, she said. Donations can be dropped off at the center 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday.

In addition to donating food and hygiene items, people can also help by donating money and volunteering. More volunteers to help stock the food pantry and to assist students may enable the pantry to expand its hours, Smith said. Right now, UCM pantry officials are coordinating volunteers to explore the possibility of opening more hours in the week, she said.

Information from: Tribune-Star, http://www.tribstar.com

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