Shawnee State opening food pantry for students in need

Published: Jul. 26, 2016 at 6:35 PM EDT
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PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (WSAZ) -- Ramen noodles and Pop-Tarts may be common food staples for college students, but sometimes that diet isn't by choice.

According to a 2014 Feeding America study, 31 percent of college students had to choose between paying for food, or paying for school.

It’s a dilemma administrators at Shawnee State University don’t want their students to face. That’s why Director of Student Life Tiffany Hartman came up with the idea to open the “Bear Necessities” pantry, free for students.

“No student should be unsuccessful because of the fact they don't have the money to buy a notebook or they don't have the money to buy a pen,” Hartman tells WSAZ. “College is expensive. We know that. And Shawnee State wants to do their best to make every student successful to be a standout student on our campus, and if the pantry helps a student then we're doing our job.”

Hartman says she came up with the idea for the pantry when she saw a news report on other universities across the nation opening pantries for students facing financial hardships and realized Shawnee State students were in a similar situation.

“Many of the students in this area have come from schools where breakfast and lunch was provided and at some point in time that need is still going to be there when they are in college,” Hartman says.

According to Feeding America, 10 percent of their clientele is made up of college students.

Hartman says the pantry will be open to all Shawnee State students, no questions asked. All students have to do is have a valid Shawnee State student ID card.

Rose Davis’ granddaughter is starting at Shawnee in the fall. She says it is a relief to know her granddaughter, who is coming from Cincinnati, will have a place to go if she needs it.

“She’s quite a bit away from home,” Davis said. “She's two hours away, and that would be something nice because she's always home and she has it there. But being away as a college student, she won't be able to get that as often as she would at home. So I think it's a great idea.”

“There are students in the past who have said that they needed help, and we recognize that,” Hartman said. “There are students on campus who have gone to my office or other departments on campus and have needed a little extra help and have told us ‘I don't have enough money to buy gas to drive to school,’ ‘I don't have enough money to buy food tonight, I won't be paid until Friday. The next two days I’m not going to eat.’ There are so many people who have keep food in their offices, and we don't want that to be an issue for our students."

The pantry will open on the first day of classes for the fall semester, which is Aug. 22.