The Online Beacon

The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

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Feeding A Campus: The Food Pantry

Feeding+A+Campus%3A+The+Food+Pantry

Food Insecurity, or a lack of adequate food (as defined by the USDA), is an unfortunately common issue not only in the US, with 54 Million Americans being considered food insecure, particularly among college students. Due to numerous factors such as ever-rising tuition prices, an increase in first-generation and low-income students who do not have large discretionary funds to buy groceries, and overall inflation, college students are particularly susceptible to food insecurity. This growing problem not only jeopardizes the well-being of students but also hinders their ability to focus on their studies, underscoring the need for increased awareness and support for those facing food insecurity on college campuses. 

Thankfully MCLA has created a new position here on campus, Food Security Coordinator. The role is filled by Casey Young, a graduate of the class of 2023. During her time as an undergraduate student, Young was heavily involved on campus, including working in the Volunteer Center and improving and maintaining the Food Pantry, which is a free resource on campus for MCLA students to receive the food they need. You can find the Food Pantry on the second floor of the Campus Center, next to Sullivan Lounge.

Only forty-eight hours after graduation, Young began working at both MCLA and BCC to help tackle food insecurity, as both school’s new Food Security Coordinator. While not Young’s initial plan, she has found a deep sense of fulfillment within the role, “My intent wasn’t to go into Higher Ed, I was supposed to start law school! I like to think everything happens for a reason and I’m where I am now because students needed my help at both BCC and MCLA.” 

Young continued on to discuss the importance of battling food insecurity, specifically on college campuses, “Food Insecurity is a barrier that limits students from reaching their full potential. If you’re hungry going into 9 am on a Tuesday, I doubt you’ll be paying attention to your lecture.” Proper nutrition has long been affiliated with the ability to learn, therefore when a student has limited access to it, it is nearly impossible for them to receive the education they deserve and have most likely paid for. 

In order to combat this Young has been working to further improve the Food Pantry and increase programs to address hunger on MCLA’s campus, Young “can’t say too much but just know myself and Spencer Moser, the Assistant Dean of Student Growth and Wellbeing, are working very hard to give students other essential needs resources.” One of these essential resources is fresh produce, which has been provided to students through the new farmers market on campus, which Young clarified will continue through the middle of November. Young also attempts to adjust the food brought into the food pantry based on student feedback, such as including more bread and microwave meals after students request them.  

In addition to providing resources and food to students, Young is also focused on changing the culture around food insecurity and educating those who do not understand the realities of fueling your body as a college student. This work includes creating an open dialogue in order to help educate faculty.

 Young explains “It’s hard for faculty and staff to understand food insecurity when they think students with a meal plan are staying nourished, but that’s not the case. I’m trying to educate everyone within MCLA to understand how much out of the student population is struggling so they can be more understanding. I’ve had great conversations with my colleagues and they’re very respectful and willing to help combat this issue.”

The Food Pantry also offers an opportunity for students to work on campus assisting Young with restocks, researching new potential resources, and assisting with the farmer’s market. One of these students, Kaiya Cocliff ’26, said this about working for Young as a Food Pantry Coordinator, “Growing up around people who volunteer, I’ve always felt that it was a duty of mine to help others. This job has widened my eyes about the effects of food insecurity on college students, and I was previously not aware of how big of an issue it is, even on our very own campus. I’m very proud of the work I do here, and I’m grateful that I have the ability to be an active part of a positive change at MCLA.”

Food Insecurity is a nearly insurmountable issue in the US, especially on college campuses, students are hungry all across the nation. While MCLA may not be able to solve this issue, the college is coming up with active solutions in order to help alleviate the pressure it puts on its students. Young and her student workers offer a light of hope that even when a problem seems unsolvable, and you have hundreds relying on you, you can still rise to the occasion.

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About the Contributor
Jaden Jackson, Staff Writer / Social Media Manager

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