The creation of the Bobcat Food Pantry, a food pantry to serve MSU students and prevent food insecurity on campus, is becoming a reality. It would be located on campus and available to all students. In order to utilize this resource, students need only show a Cat Card or provide a student identification number and photo ID.
The idea and structure for the food pantry was developed as a capstone project by a class of students in the Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Systems program, an interdisciplinary program within the College of Education, Health and Human Development and the College of Agriculture. The class was led by Anna Diffenderfer, program leader for Sustainable Food Systems. Students worked on the project throughout the Fall 2015 semester.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, 6.1 percent of the Montana population self-identified as having low food security, defined as “reporting of reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet,” with “little or no indication of reduced food intake.” Additionally, 5.4 percent reported being very food insecure, defined as “reporting of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.”
The capstone class conducted their own survey of MSU students at the beginning of their course: of approximately 300 responding students, 11.56 percent reported being food insecure, and an additional 19 percent reported being very food insecure. Survey participants cited lack of time, money, resources to acquire food, transportation and knowledge of food preparation as reasons for food insecurity. Half of responding students expressed interest in utilizing a campus food pantry, with 32 percent saying they would use the resource and 18 percent said maybe.
Once the need for a food pantry was identified, the project moved forward. Students stated their objectives being to eliminate hunger within the MSU community, reduce stigma regarding hunger, redistribute foods and educate the MSU community on food security, nutrition and innovative ways of utilizing foods. They planned to work with local businesses, University Food Services and the Gallatin Valley Food Bank to put their project into action.
Initially, the project was brought to the Office of Sustainability, an ASMSU program. In response, ASMSU’s liaisons to the Office of Sustainability, Senators Geneva Zoltek and Thomas Marts, drafted a resolution showing support for the establishment of the Bobcat Food Pantry. On Thursday, Feb. 4 the ASMSU Senate voted 16-0 in favor of the resolution.
“It’s a good collaboration between students and faculty,” Marts said. Moving forward, a committee of stakeholders will be meeting weekly. The tentative location for the food pantry is on the third floor of Reid Hall.
“We’re excited to see this move forward and become a part of our campus,” Zoltek said.