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Tech faculty opens food pantry in efforts to combat food insecurity

July 13, 2017

 

Andrew Bell
Staff Reporter | agb022@latech.edu

 

Food insecurity has affected people from all over the globe, playing no favorites based on ethnicity, religion or any other categorization. However, Louisiana Tech faculty members have zeroed in on the prevalence of food insecurities among college students especially, resulting in the recent opening of the Good Nutrition Mission Food Pantry.

 

Catherine Fontenot, an assistant professor in the School of Human Ecology, said her motivation behind aiding in the opening of the food pantry stems from her time as a food service director of an Indian Health Service unit in Chinle, Arizona.

 

“I observed how this particular Indian tribe used the land and native wild edible plants to extend their food budget and medically treat themselves,” she said. “This was an incredible ‘out-opening’ experience for me as a registered dietitian who had never been exposed to anyone who didn’t have enough to eat, nor easy access to large grocery stores.”

 

Fontenot would later encounter similar issues involving college students, ultimately convincing her that a food pantry would thrive on campus.

 

“Over the past three years, I have suspected that food insecurity is prevalent among college students,” she said. “Upon further research I found an article that confirmed my suspicion. A university in Oregon, about the size of Louisiana Tech, conducted an experiment conveying that 60 percent of their student population was food insecure.”

 

She said the current economic climate in Louisiana, considering budget cuts for higher education, rising costs and the surplus of first generation students would provide an opportunity to implement a system improving students’ food insecurities at Tech.

 

“That combined with the fact that I believe we live in a land of plenty, and honestly do not believe anyone should ever feel hunger,” she said. “Thus, the idea of a campus food pantry was born.”

 

Melanie Lantz, an assistant professor in the department of psychology and behavioral sciences, said her department also expressed interest in a food pantry at one point.

 

“We had been aware that food insecurity is an under recognized problem for college students,” she said. “Food insecurity can lead to academic, psychological and physical problems.”

 

Lantz said people experiencing food insecurities are more likely to go through physical and psychological distress.

 

“The goal, generally, of opening a campus food pantry is to alleviate student hunger for those experiencing food insecurity,” she said. “This is done to thereby ameliorate the psychological, physical and academic consequences of food insecurity.”

 

Camille Baker, a doctorate counseling and psychology major, said the mental downfalls of food insecurity are the most eye-opening. “Food insecurity is linked to a lot of things,” she said. “These things include a lower grade point average and also depression.”

 

The pantry is located in Carson-Taylor Hall Room 152. It is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9-11 a.m. and 12-2 p.m. to those interested in utilizing the available resources of the pantry.

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