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How Utah universities are fighting food insecurity in their communities

Kara Bachman-Einfeldt
USU- Student Nutrition Access Center

Students across Utah universities are facing the highest proportions of hunger ever recorded. Colleges fight back through the pandemic by expanding food pantry programs to their communities. 

Food insecurity among university students is an ongoing issue, but the pandemic has exacerbated the problem. Since the start of the pandemic nearly one third of college students missed a meal at least once a week. Last winter food insecurity jumped ten percent across Utah.

Many universities across Utah are taking action to prevent hunger by creating and enhancing food pantries for their campus communities. Utah State University recently expandedits food pantry program, the Student Nutrition Access Center, or SNAC.

Kara Bachman is the Utah State University Food Security Coordinator, “As students, we do a lot of work here. We recover, produce, we recover unsold food from USU, dining services and local restaurants... And we do partner with the local food pantry on Main Street, we pick up between 2000 to 2500 pounds a week from them. So that is where a lot of our canned and non-perishable food comes from."

Just like at USU, many other universities in Utah have programs for food insecure students.

Jackie Smith is director of the food pantry at the University of Utah called the Feed U Pantry "We work really closely with the campus community, we run food drives with the different colleges and different student groups on campus, as well as hosting zoom cooking hours, which have been really awesome. That's where we go out and we get ingredient kits, we put them together that people can pick up for completely free again, and then join a zoom later to learn how to cook a really awesome meal for free.”

Although food pantries serve an important role in Utah, Bachman stresses that they are not a cure-all for hunger in the state.

“Food pantries are not going to solve the issue of food insecurity or hunger... We are here to be that band-aid during the years that students are here at Utah State University,” said Bachman.

For more information about your local food pantry visit here.

Colleen Meidt is a science reporter at UPR as well as a PhD student at Utah State University. She studies native bees in the Mojave Desert and is particularly interested studying the conservation status of the Mojave Poppy Bee. In her free time, Colleen enjoys photography and rock climbing in the canyons.