Short-term food relief may not be enough for struggling students

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By Kaylee Pierce
CONTRIBUTOR

As the cost of education and added fees rise, I find myself closer to facing the looming fact that I am not always going to able to afford all the groceries I need.

I decided that skipping the campus meal plans offered by the University and purchasing my own groceries was one way to save money. But as more and more fees pile up, I realize that somewhere along the way I am go-ing to have cut out or cut back on something else as well to make it through this year.

While being broke can be inescapable, it doesn’t mean you have to go hungry. The University of Nebraska at Omaha provides the Maverick Food Pantry and the occasional fundraiser to help with donations to it. The food pantry is confidential and offers students food pack-ages that last for an average of two days.

Students can easily pick up their packages at the Community Engagement Center.

Other organizations also offer food to involved students. Recently, the student organization University Housing rallied together to help gather donations for use through the Maverick Food Pantry. University Housing involved students through an activity called Reverse Trick or Treating, where students filled paper bags tacked on their dorm room doors with nonperishable items that would go towards the food pantry.

There were a grand total of 847 donations for the food pantry.

PHOTO BY Hannah Delzell
PHOTO BY Hannah Delzell

Students involved in on-campus student organizations like University Housing can also get free meals by attending the activities or meetings that the organizations holds. Some organizations cater food from popular restaurants or even make their own food. All students have to do is show up to the meeting.

While these are options are helpful, they are unfortunately temporary. The food pantry offers enough food for a single meal, as do the activi-ties. What do students do beyond a single meal? Beyond just a day or two? What options are there for students who face continual hun-ger? So far this hasn’t been fully ad-dressed by the University.

UNO needs to account for situations with students where food for one or two days, while helpful, isn’t really a solution to their problems. Some students may not be able to afford food for days at a time. Do these students have to continuously apply to the Food Pantry or is there something else the university can do?

UNO has done a great job address-ing short term hunger. But when a student has to live off of bread and ramen noodles for weeks, what solutions are there for them? Perhaps a weekly or bi-weekly food drive where students come in and grab food that will last them for the next two weeks, investing in bulk items. UNO could really fight increasing student hunger with a more comprehensive approach.

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