Student groups to bring food bank truck on campus to combat food insecurity

Austin Fleskes

At Colorado State University, 10-15 percent of students attending the university said they are food insecure in a survey three years ago, according to Jen Johnson, assistant director of Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement.

To combat this issue, Associated Students of Colorado State University and SLiCE are partnering with the Larimer County Food Bank to bring a mobile food bank to campus starting in March.

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On certain days in March, April and May the mobile food bank will be parked outside of Sherwood Forrest. Anybody with a valid CSU ID can access the food in the truck and take up to 50 pounds of food home.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, food insecurity is the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or the limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.

“Having enough nutritious food is like the basics of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs,” Johnson said. “I think it’s really important if we care about our community and we want everyone to be at their best, and having food is a critical part of that.”

Johnson believes having a continuous supply of nutritious food is important to school success in students, adding that she worked on an article with Dr. Heather Novick, research manager at CSU, which talked about the impact of nutrition on student success.

“We know that the students that get the swipes have better GPAs and are retained at higher rates than students with similar indexes that don’t get the meals,” Johnson said.

Nick Bohn, Director of Outreach at ASCSU, said the 15 percent of students that face food insecurity is a large population on campus.

“A lot of people that responded to the survey said that it is very hard to openly admit that it’s difficult to find food, and healthy food at that,” Bohn said.

There are other CSU programs that combat food insecurity, such as Rams Against Hunger. The program allows food-insecure students the opportunity to obtain a certain amount of meal swipes to use throughout the year.

After gathering information on students financial and food status through a short survey, Johnson works with financial aid to figure out a student’s estimated family consumption, a measure of how much financial need a student has.

Any student with an EFC of 10,000 or below is eligible for the program. These students are then accommodated on a first-come-first-serve basis to add 75 meals to their Ram card.

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However, Johnson said that the problem with the program is its lack of funding, causing a wait for students. She said that she has around 280 students on a wait list.

“We fundraise a lot of money, tens of thousands of dollars every semester, and it’s still not enough. We have students that are still waiting,” Johnson said.

She explained that last semester a committee was pulled back together to decide how they could continue with the swipes program and lead to more programs, such as the mobile food bank.

Fort Collins is also affected by food insecurity. According to the Larimer County Food Bank website, 42,800 residents in Larimer County are food insecure. The food bank’s website states that 12,500 individuals are helped monthly, 45 percent of which are seniors and kids.

Bohn urges those students that are suffering from a lack of food to sign up for the Rams Against Hunger program so that they can get the assistance they need.

“It’s really important to make sure we are taking care of every ram. Rams take care of rams, and the best way to do that is to welcome everybody,” Bohn said.

Collegian reporter Austin Fleskes can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @MrPacMan80.