Good Nutrition Mission Food Pantry takes a new approach to food insecurity
April 28, the College of Applied and Natural Sciences reopened Louisiana Tech University’s Good Nutrition Mission Food Pantry located in Carson Taylor Hall.
According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities, food insecurity is a growing challenge on college campuses across America. To tackle this ongoing issue, the School of Human Ecology created the Good Nutrition Mission Food Pantry for students to have access to necessary items such as dairy products, canned food items, and personal care items.
Students and faculty attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony that was held to commemorate the new additions to the space that included shelving provided by Louisiana Tech’s Student Government Association and a refrigerator provided by Dairy MAX.
Dr. Catherine Fontenot, Director of the food pantry and an Assistant Professor of Human Ecology, started this program in 2017 out of the unspoken need of students that are experiencing food insecurity on campus.
“We know nutrition is a part of being able to lead a healthy lifestyle and so it’s vital to students’ success,” said Fontenot. “Research shows that when students are well-nourished, they’re able to focus better, and therefore they’re able to perform better on exams.”
The food pantry is also celebrating a new approach to serving the students of Louisiana Tech through a new online ordering system. Throughout summer 2020, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Good Nutrition Mission Food Pantry served over 200 Louisiana Tech students through this new system.
Kara Hodges, a senior in Nutrition and Dietetics, said that the food pantry is a needed resource for college students to have available to them.
“As a college student, we have so much going on between work and classes,” Hodges said. “This resource is a great way to give back to those students who are working hard for themselves, their futures, and even their families.”
Prior to the reopening, the food pantry provided canned goods and other nonperishable items to Louisiana Tech students. With the new refrigerators provided by Dairy MAX and donations from the Lagniappe Ladies, the food pantry is able to provide dairy products such as yogurt, milk, and cheese. Other organizations, like the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, have provided donations for staples like rice.
Dairy MAX representatives Candace Bell and Jenn Duhon said college students often lack dairy within their daily nutrition.
“About 30 to 40 percent of college students say they do not get enough to eat and that comes back to food insecurity,” said Bell. “We need to make sure that we are not only feeding students but providing students with nutritious meals that include dairy.”
Duhon said that dairy is one of the most requested items at food pantries but one of the least donated amongst all of the food groups.
“Dairy is an affordable but high-quality protein,” said Duhon. “Proteins, especially dairy, help anyone who is feeling hungry get through their classes and to their next meal.”
Through the Good Nutrition Mission Food Pantry’s new online ordering system, students can pick and choose their groceries for the week at no charge. Students can go online, put in their name and campus-wide ID, and selected items to be picked up. Once their order is ready, a student worker emails the student and the student can retrieve their order.
“The online order system is a new and exciting way to service our students while adhering to the COVID guidelines that were put in place over the summer,” Fontenot said. “I think students enjoy having the option to come in or place an order for pick up!”
Faculty, staff, and fellow students do not always know the hardships that can be faced whether that be the loss of a job, a devastating house fire, or struggling between paychecks. The Good Nutrition Mission Food Pantry offers students a way to overcome the stress of finding their next meal between paychecks or providing for their family while attending college.
“Students can be secure one day and then not the other,” Fontenot said. “That’s what our food pantry is for, to help students in the hard times and make their campus experience a little bit easier.”