Maryland’s oldest historically black university, Bowie State University, has established a food nutrition pantry that offers food to students for free.
Their aim is to ensure no student studies on an empty stomach hence easing food insecurity on campus. The food bank is in the campus library building and students do not need to meet any financial requirements to have access to it.
“We’ve opened it to all students, so you don’t have to meet a financial criterion,” said Dr. Rita Wutoh, director of the wellness center.
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Bowie State University has established through its findings that some students are surviving on one meal per day.
“A 2019 study finding that 45% of college students asked about food security at more than 100 higher ed institutions nationwide had gone hungry within the last month,” WTOP reports.
The athletes who need enough strength to train are also experiencing the same situation.
“The athletes are losing weight when they should be gaining weight and bulking up,” Wutoh said.
The new Bowie State Nutrition Lounge is in existence because of a $10,000 partnership with Food Lion Feeds, the company’s hunger relief program, and will be frequently stocked by a local Food Lion store and the non-profit Capital Area Food Bank.
“This gift from Food Lion Feeds, along with the ongoing partnership of Food Lion and Capital Area Food Bank, will make an incredible difference for our Bowie State students, who sometimes struggle to afford healthy food options,” Brent Swinton, the school’s vice president of institutional advancement, said.
According to Baltimore CBS local, Devin Hodge commutes to school every day and it’s a tough choice between grabbing a meal and getting to school due to financial constraints.
“As a commuter student, it’s always between gas and food and so it’s like, I have to get to campus,” Hodge said.
“I might have $15 so it’s either going in the tank or going to eat and it’s like, I can be hungry as long as I make it to class, like I feel like getting to class is more important to me than eating sometimes and I feel like I shouldn’t have to make that compromise, but unfortunately sometimes we do,” Hodge added.
About 75 students visit the pantry per day which is no surprise because a national survey reveals over six million students nationwide are affected by food or housing security.
“Our students commonly have one or two jobs as well as carrying a full load, academic credit load, so it’s really a need for them to have their, to be able to eat on a daily basis so they can perform better academically,” Wutoh said.
Food Lion’s Bowie area director, Jason Bullock also shares the same view.
“Students should be focused on learning, not where their next meal will come from. Caring for our neighbors in the towns and cities we serve is important to us, so we’re excited about this new space to help nourish the Bowie State community.”