Editor’s Note: This article was written by Cierra Spurlock and originally posted on Bloomsburg News.
BLOOMSBURG, Pa.—Hungry Huskies is an initiative that was started this past summer to help reduce hunger for students. The Vice President of Student Affairs, Dione Somerville, Ed.D., and Janet Rarig, Psy.D., a newer faculty member to Bloomsburg University, and the Students Affairs Department spoke candidly on why Hungry Huskies is so important and how student organization groups like the Community Government Association and Greek Life Affairs participate.
Rarig stated, “…there was a grass roots efforts around it for several years trying to help students who were struggling.” She also said that efforts were pulled together to focus on what was working with Hungry Huskies and what was not working in order to make improvements. She said that is when the group got together and made the name “Hungry Huskies.” Hungry Huskies has picked up some steam since the beginning and is a great overall initiative program.
Hungry Huskies looked into the educational information surrounding the program and began pulling together some organizations and areas in the community like the Bloomsburg’s Town Food Cupboard located downtown in Bloomsburg, Pa. on Center Street. The Bloomsburg Town Cupboard and Bloomsburg University initially linked up this fall semester, and it has been a tremendous collaboration so far.
The Bloomsburg Town Food Cupboard is open to all Bloomsburg University students every Monday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Students are advised to bring their Bloomsburg University identification card in order to receive a food bag. The food that students are receiving from the Bloomsburg Town Food Cupboard is donated by the Bloomsburg community and Bloomsburg University as well.
Since the Bloomsburg Food Cupboard is only open on Mondays to students, there are other locations with a limited supply of emergency food bags supplied on campus. These locations include the Dean of Students Office, Students Health Center, TriO Student Support Services, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Women’s Resource Center, and the Cultural Affairs and Support Office as well. For specific address locations found on campus please visit the Husky Sync portal.
These emergency food bags include things like boxes of cereal, crackers, and canned goods that contain soups and vegetables.
Somerville said that one of the only difficulties surrounding Hungry Huskies is the fact that “there is just not enough hours in a day,” while also stating, “What’s been amazing is how many people [this] has resonated with.” She adds, “We just started as a group talking about it and there were people saying, ‘oh, I want to help, I want to help.’ Even now that it’s a more coordinated effort, students have come out to support it.” This also includes the help of many community members in the Bloomsburg area.
Somerville listed some of Bloomsburg University’s top supporters and contributors of the Hungry Huskies. They include the CGA and all Greek Life Affairs. Somerville says that the overall support from the Bloomsburg community has been wonderful.
These organizations’ primary focus in helping Hungry Huskies is to host and participate in food drives. These food drives allow for Hungry Huskies to grow immensely while increasing student and community involvement. Greek Life Affair organizations and the CGA host food drives where Bloomsburg Univeristy students or community members are able to drop off canned goods, boxes of cereal, and other non-perishable items.
These food drive boxes are usually placed in dormitory lobby areas at the end of each semester when students decide to go back home for the holiday or summer break; however, these food drive boxes can also be found throughout the entire school semester because this is an on-going activity. These organizations work closely with Hungry Huskies to put together many emergency food bags for students. The more food donated, the more emergency food bags can be made available to students creating for better on-campus accessibility for those students in need.
Many students nationwide constantly struggle with going hungry while in college. According to a study conducted by Sara Goldrick-Rab at the University of Wisconsin, more than 50% of college students struggle with food security overall.
Twenty-two percent of those participants shared their experience of going hungry—going without meals or eating small, unsatisfactory meals simply because they did not have the means to afford food.
Another survey conducted by the Emergency Food Service Network, says that about 30.5% of students reported that they were forced to choose between food and educational expenses at some point over the last year.
Rarig shared some struggles students experienced by stating, “It’s unfortunate because I think we’ve heard stories of students that had to make a choice between a certain textbook or food and things of that nature.” These financial problems impair students’ education.
Somerville said that Hungry Huskies empowers students to be their absolute best. She stated, “You can’t do that when you’re hungry. You can’t do that when you’re worried about where the next meal is coming from…and so to just to help our students have some resources and help them be able to study, participate, engage and be involved and not be tired is very important.” With the support from Hungry Huskies and the Bloomsburg Univeristy organization groups, the student hunger stigma is sure to decrease.
Rarig offered some solutions that students should maybe consider, “…but I think students should probably work with their families, the Office of Financial Aid and things of that nature to see what options they have. There are lots of scholarship opportunities, but unfortunately, not everyone is going to get one. Also, our food service provider does provide some meal plan scholarships for students. It’s only a handful a year, but I think there are lots of incremental efforts.” These resources are key components in allowing for great student academic success.
There are many other organizations at Bloomsburg University that are able to also assist and spread the word about Hungry Huskies in order to contribute in a big way. The National Communication Association Student Chapter (NCASC) is a club that focuses on fundraising and community volunteering. With the NCASC’s involvement with the Hungry Huskies, it will help raise awareness for the program and would also be a wonderful opportunity to reach hundreds of fellow students.
For more statistics and studies on the unfortunate growing food insecurity that millions of students experience each and every year, check out these organizations that are helping to bring awareness to this growing stigma:
More information on Bloomsburg’s Town Food Cupboard: