NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. — Students in college are expected to work to their full potential; however, hunger and food insecurity can put them at risk of reaching their goals.
“Food insecurity is a growing issue, especially with the cost of groceries that continues to rise,” said Paula Dove, assistant to the director of Student Affairs and one of the organizers of the new Lion’s Pantry at Penn State New Kensington.
According to the 2021 University Food and Housing Security Task Force report, 35% of responding students reported experiencing some level of food insecurity, which is a status given to those not having consistent access to food.
To help mitigate short-term food insecurity, Dove, along with Kedra Kitko, campus counselor, organized the Lion’s Pantry with the help of other staff members from the Office of Student Affairs. The pantry is located in the student clubhouse.
"There is no need [for students] to inform anyone or ask permission to access the pantry," said Kitko. "If you have an ongoing need, there are also resources listed inside the pantry for local food banks, domestic violence shelters, healthcare providers and our campus resources."
At this time, the pantry is funded and filled thanks to donations from staff, alumni and community members wanting to support students in need. The Penn State New Kensington Alumni Society also donated gift cards for a local grocery story for student emergency assistance. Kitko is working to create a process to accept other donations and look for grants to keep the pantry stocked and sustainable.
To access the pantry, students can visit the campus’ clubhouse seven days a week between 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Inside the clubhouse, students can find free grab-and-go meals and snacks, as well as hygiene and cleaning supplies, inside the brown cabinet.
Students who have questions about the pantry or want to provide feedback or dietary requests can email [email protected].
Amari Walker, sophomore communications student at Penn State New Kensington, contributed to this story.