RamRide continues campus fight against food insecurity

Serena Bettis

In Larimer County, 38,040 residents are food insecure, and Colorado State University students are among them.

Mike Buttram, the program coordinator for community engagement in the Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement offices, said a recent survey conducted by the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice on the CSU campus showed 32% of CSU students experienced food insecurity at some level in the last 30 days. 

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“It’s nothing that we didn’t already know, but it’s alarming nonetheless because (of) the high prevalence of food insecurity on campus right now,” Buttram said. “That’s a rate that we’re unwilling to accept.”

CSU’s RamRide program launched a new service this semester, called Food Ops, to further fight food insecurity on campus. 

RamRide will now provide students, faculty and staff with rides home from the monthly CSU Mobile Food Pantry and will take weekly trips to the Larimer County Food Bank on Friday afternoons. 

“We know there’s a lot of folks that bike or walk or bus onto campus, which day-to-day is fine,” said Lindsay Mason, director of Off-Campus Life. “But if they’ve got 20 or 30 pounds of food, that can be really difficult for them to bike that home or walk that home.” 

Mason said RamRide took 67 people home after the Feb. 6 Mobile Food Pantry and plans on bringing more cars to the next one. 

A student shouldn’t have to be hungry or experience any sort of housing insecurity just to go to college.” -Mike Buttram, SLiCE program coordinator for community engagement

As of now, Mason said, no prior sign-up is required for the Friday Food Ops. RamRide can currently take up to 31 people to the food bank, and those wishing to participate only need to check in at the RamRide office before 2 p.m. on Fridays. 

Participants can shop at the food bank for as long as they want, and RamRide will then take them home or back to the Lory Student Center. 

Debora Nunes, a graduate student in the economics department, said she uses the Mobile Food Pantry to get fresh fruits and vegetables, which are normally expensive, but she has never been to the food bank because she does not own a car. 

people voluneer at a food bank
Abbie Kucera, Leora Greene and Teagan Bryan volunteer at the Larimer County Food Bank, or Mobile Food Pantry, in the Lory Student Center Theatre Feb. 6. “I have lots of friends who are paying for college on their own, working and struggling to get groceries for themselves. This is a fun way to give back to my own community and make sure my peers have enough food to get them through for a little while,” Greene said. The Mobile Food Pantry is on campus the first Wednesday or Thursday of each month. (Brooke Buchan | The Collegian)

“All the reports regarding food insecurity on campus are very big, and it’s a serious issue,” Nunes said. “I think that a lot of students who are suffering from food insecurity don’t have the means to actually go to the pantry, so this initiative is very important, and I think it will definitely help a lot of students who are in a bad situation.”

Bri Colon, the program coordinator for Off-Campus Life, said Food Ops started after two students in a composition class created a petition where they asked the Associated Students of CSU to give RamRide more funding to provide these services. 

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After meeting with the students and Rams Against Hunger, Colon said they determined that Food Ops can operate within RamRide’s existing budget. 

“Part of it was like, ‘OK, we have the vehicles; All it would take is just volunteer recruitment if we want to do it on Friday afternoon,’” said Gabriel Navarro, a master’s student in student affairs and higher education and the graduate assistant for RamRide. 

In addition to the RamRide Food Ops and the Mobile Food Pantry, students, faculty and staff facing food insecurity have multiple resources through Rams Against Hunger, including a meal swipe program, access to six small food pantries across campus and the Ram Food Recovery Program.

“We recognize that the high cost of college is a large part contributing to (food insecurity), and so as a CSU community, we are looking for ways to help buffer that for students and to help them meet their basic needs,” Buttram said. “A student shouldn’t have to be hungry or experience any sort of housing insecurity just to go to college.”

Serena Bettis can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @serenaroseb