If You Care About Yourself or the Environment, Visit a Food Pantry

By Abriana Gonzalez on June 30, 2019

Despite growing up with a very limited amount of money, I never really faced the struggle of worrying about food. Then I went to college and I felt hunger like I never had before and there were times when I ran out of meals for the week and ate sleep for dinner, knowing full well that’s not self-care. I wasn’t sure what I could do to take care of myself. I scrolled past my university’s spam emails and something caught my eye, a resource pantry.

I was a bit scared to need a resource, food, or any kind of pantry, so I stayed hungry for a week then got sick of ramen (yes, the chicken flavor) and putting my health on hold because of what others would think of me. And I sucked it up.

When I first walked into the food pantry, I didn’t know what to expect. My family has always used this resource throughout my childhood, but it felt different now that I was on my own. It felt like I was taking what wasn’t mine. I had a meal plan I should’ve been fine. I should’ve. 

I stood in my university’s food bank and shuffled my feet a bit and looked into impossibly bright eyes and a matching smile of an unnamed student worker and suddenly I didn’t want to bolt anymore. One of the students working the front of the food pantry reminded me of something I had forgotten: 

Image via Unsplash

Food Pantries Are for Everyone 

Over 700 million people worldwide go hungry every day—that’s 1 in 9 people. Additionally, with rising university costs, many college students find themselves unable to properly provide themselves with nutritious foods. The nation’s future, our peers are suffering. If you find yourself facing food insecurity remember food pantries are for everyone who needs them. If you utilize food pantries it doesn’t mean you’re weak or you can’t take care of yourself and your family. It’s the exact opposite. Food banks are meant to aid those in need regardless of class because everyone from time to time needs a helping hand. 

Better for the Environment 

Turns out your mother was wrong; there is enough food to feed the world’s hungry, but much of it goes to waste. More than one-third of food produced is wasted; great deal of food is wasted in supermarkets simply because it looks too “ugly” for consumers despite being perfectly nutritiously sound even with its small imperfections. Additionally, most of the food that goes to waste ends up in landfills where they create greenhouse gases which contribute to and speed up climate change. However, donating and using food from food banks is a proven solution.

Photo from Upsplash by Toa Heftiba

Food Banks Build a Collective 

When I was younger, and my mother and I went to food banks I was too young to understand the connection she felt with other people in the food banks. However, after utilizing my university’s resource pantry and food bank I felt it. I felt connected somehow to those around me and I realized: food banks build a collective. I saw students from my classes and began to talk to them and for the first time, I learned more about my classmates, my neighbors, and the people around me. In an increasingly technological world where many of us feel disconnected to the world around us, food banks provide an opportunity to humanize the people and struggles of those around us. When visiting food banks, I learned about people’s lives and for a brief moment felt like I was a part of those lives.

Image from Upsplash by Elaine Casap

How to Find a Food Pantry

A growing amount of colleges and universities have a food or resource pantry somewhere on or near campus. If you discover that your campus doesn’t have some type of resource pantry or food bank for those who need it in the community decide to take up the mantel yourself and start one. Who knows, you might even find your senior project. 

Finding a food bank is incredibly easy and as long as you meet the requirements for certain food banks or resource pantries like a certain zip code or campus address, gaining access is painless. Not all food banks are created equal, but nearly all want to aid those suffering in their own communities and make life better for themselves and future generations. And if you and your friends find yourselves with leftover food don’t be afraid to donate the food to a food bank near you.

Lastly, if you find yourself facing food insecurity don’t be afraid to reach out for help whether that help comes from food banks, your family, or your general support system. Trust that you’ve surrounded yourself with people who care for your well-being. 

Rising senior at West Chester University studying communications, political science, and leadership who loves writing, politics, John Mulaney, and crafting her future Broadway musical.

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