Rowan University students tackle food insecurity on campus

- At Rowan University in New Jersey, there are a surprising number of students hungry and in need of help.

“Many Rowan University students are struggling with food insecurity,” student Rbrey Singleton told Fox 29. “They skip meals because they’re out of funds. They sometimes have to choose between eating or buying a textbook.”

Typically, when thinking of those struggling to find their next meal, college students don’t immediately come to mind, but national studies indicate that 20-30% of college students spent some part of the previous month hungry.

According to a campus study, over 50% of students surveyed at Rowan University worry about basic needs like having food to eat. The New Jersey university decided to take action and open up a shop for those in need.

The Shop, which acts as a campus food and convenience store, is a partnership between students, the administration and various organizations.

Now, on campus, if a student is hungry or needs supplies, they can just walk to the shop to pick up what they need—free of charge.

“I’ve had friends, I’ve heard of people letting me know that they’ve gone days without eating,” Singleton said. “And I know that college students living off of ramen noodles has become a joke, but that’s the reality for so many people.”

Singleton, one of the students responsible for pushing to open the shop, told Fox 29 that there are no real rules except that you must be a student. They simply don’t want anyone on campus to go without basic necessities due to lack of funds.

“They don’t have to prove anything, they don’t have to fill out any paperwork, they don’t even have to self-identify,” Singleton said. “We wanted to de-stigmatize this whole process. Being hungry is already a tough situation as it is, we wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to get the help that they need.”

Penny McPherson-Myers, Associate VP of Rowan University, spoke to the larger need of the shop on campus.

“We call it an invisible population,” she said. “Because it’s students that look like they’re doing well and they’re attending classes and they’re taking care of their business but, at the same time, they’re not eating.”

“Food insecurity is a nameless and faceless thing,” Singleton said. “I could be giving this interview right now and I could be hungry myself and you would have no clue.”

Along with access to food and personal items, the shop will also provide recipes and cooking classes for students who want to save money by cooking. The items were purchased with student government and university funds as well as donations, and everyone involved hopes it helps open eyes to such a significant problem.

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