University celebrates 10th anniversary of food pantry
KENNESAW, Ga. (Nov 14, 2016) — Going a few days without eating was typical for BellDeVry Dubuche, a senior integrative studies major. Since he was 18, the now 30-year old has spent time living with friends, in his car, and in a shelter.
Dubuche came to Kennesaw State 18 months ago and was referred to the University’s CARE Center, which offers support to any Kennesaw State student who is dealing with homelessness, food insecurity or is part of the foster care system.
With the help of the center’s staff, Dubuche, who is a private first class in the National Guard, was able to move into on-campus housing. But like many students across the nation, Dubuche chose the cheapest meal plan possible to save money.
“I could go one or two days without eating,” said Dubuche. “But I need to stay in shape for the National Guard, so eating is important.” The CARE Center currently provides him with additional staples each week.
“I’m the kind of person who is not going to ask for help, but I am one of the first people to offer help to others,” said Dubuche, who is employed as part of the federal work-study program. “If I would see a veteran or someone on the side of the road with a sign, I would bring them something to eat. They need our help, too.”
For many college students, being able to afford an education comes at a cost, explained Marcy Stidum, director of the CARE Center.
“It’s often sticker shock for many students and they opt for a smaller meal plan, but even a weekly 8-meal plan only covers about two meals a day,” said Marcy Stidum, director of the CARE Center.
Nationally, 43 percent of college students are considered food insecure, which is the lack of reliable access to sufficient quantities of affordable, nutritious food, according to the College and University Food Bank Alliance. Students surveyed indicated that food insecurity was still a serious challenge, despite meal plans and consistent employment. The study also shows that hunger on college campuses can harm students’ educational success.
At Kennesaw State, the University’s 10-year-old food pantry, with locations at both the Kennesaw and Marietta campuses, has given away more than 8,000 pounds of food annually. The pantry has already handed out more than 350 bags this year.
“Any KSU student can receive a bag of food once each month,” Stidum said. Those who are experiencing homelessness, food insecurity and the foster care system and work with a CARE Center case manager are eligible for more frequent visits. For KSU students with children, donations from MUST Ministries provide additional food resources for their families.
“The campus and community donate heavily to the food pantries in the months of November and December, and those donations can carry us until early fall next year,” Stidum added.
Many opportunities for donating occur during Homelessness Awareness Week (HAW), now in its ninth year. The weeklong event, Nov. 5-12, featured activities to help those on campus and in the community who are dealing with food insecurity and homelessness, and helped educate students on the complexities of this growing problem.
“HAW is beneficial because it brings about awareness to an unrecognized issue,” Stidum said. “My hopes are through events like HAW, one day college homelessness and food insecurity will be seen as an issue that needs to be addressed in a comprehensive manner. Targeted federal, local and university funding, research and dedicated personnel will only come once it is recognized as a growing crisis on our campuses nationwide.”
A Football Food Drive on Nov. 5 gathered 1,747 food items and several food bins have been installed throughout the campuses to collect food for the university’s food pantry. Students and university staff gathered on Thursday afternoon to build 500 sandwiches for Clyde’s Kitchen, a refuge for people who are homeless in Atlanta.
Homelessness Awareness Week ended Friday with the annual HAW Sleep Out Challenge, which followed the Cobb County Vigil, a ceremony to honor those who have died homeless in Cobb County.
Dubuche, who plays in KSU’s marching band, played “Taps” during the candlelight vigil.
- Tiffany Capuano; photos by David Caselli and Ashley Schenck
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 35,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university's vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. A Carnegie-designated doctoral institution, it is one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.