EDITORIAL: Food pantry is important at Rutgers
Giving Tuesday shows community’s selfessness
The Rutgers community is full of kind and caring people, and for specifically the past two years it has shown those qualities by donating for Giving Tuesday. Each year, Giving Tuesday takes place , and this year’s focus was on Rutgers’ student food pantries. On the New Brunswick campus, the student food pantry is located at 39 Union St. It opened in 2016, and is of donations from organizations like Rutgers Against Hunger, Middlesex County Food Organization and Outreach Distribution Services, as well as private donations. While many students will go through all four years at Rutgers without even thinking about utilizing the University’s food pantry, hunger and lack of access to nutritious foods affects more members of our community than one might think.
The key findings of a of food insecurity at Rutgers are rather unsettling. Food insecurity can be defined as, “the lack of reliable access to sufficient quantities of affordable, nutritious food,” and at Rutgers more than one-third of students experience food insecurity. The study found that 36.9 percent of undergraduates and 32.2 percent of graduate students were food insecure at the time of the study. This can come in the form of students skipping meals because they simply cannot afford to eat or, for example, only eating ramen noodles for dinner for similar reasons.
Presumably, not much has changed in terms of food insecurity at Rutgers during the past year. But with the help of donors, the efforts of Rutgers University Foundation toward Giving Tuesday have garnered approximately $25,791 for Rutgers’ food pantries — one on each Rutgers campus. According to Giving Tuesday’s fundraising , $40 can cover a student's food pantry visit, allowing them to come out with a full week’s worth of groceries and toiletries. And, importantly, these groceries include vegetables.
Another key finding of the study of food insecurity at Rutgers suggests that undergraduates without a meal plan are significantly more likely to be food insecure. Considering the price of a meal plan here, this is no surprise. Though Rutgers dining halls are chock-full of unhealthy options, they do have a plethora of healthy and nutritious foods that can be easily accessed between classes using meal swipes. But for those without meal plans, easy access to fruits, vegetables and other healthy options may be harder to come by, especially for a full-time student with a job who may not the have time or money to shop for fresh produce. Therefore, for students without a meal plan, the food pantry at Rutgers can be a life saver.
Finding healthy and sustaining food to eat is more important than it may seem in the long run for a student. The food insecurity study also found that there is a particularly strong correlation between food insecure undergraduates and lower grade point averages. that there are clear connections between the food one intakes and the proper functioning of their brain. And for a student, nothing is more important than proper brain function. Food intake can also affect a person’s emotional health, which also can arguably affect how a student performs in school. But a student’s grades are often an important aspect of landing a job after graduation, and if one’s food insecurity is affecting their grades it may very well in that sense have a more long-term effect on success in starting off their career.
So with that said, we encourage the Rutgers community to maintain its selflessness. There are students with you in class who are struggling and who can truly utilize what the food pantries have to offer — students can do their part by spreading the word and donating.
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