UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The causes of food insecurity on university campuses and what can be done to help the students who are affected by it will be discussed by President Eric Barron and his guests during the next episode of WPSU’s “Digging Deeper” on Sunday, Feb. 21.
According to the USDA, more than 35 million Americans struggle with hunger and 30% of college students suffer from food insecurity during their time at college. Barron and his guests — Anna Barone, director of student care and advocacy at Penn State, and Spencer Wallace, director of The Lion’s Pantry — will discuss how hunger affects academic performance and what can be done to address food insecurity on college campuses.
Barone said food insecurity goes beyond not having access to food.
“When a person is food secure, they would have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life,” she said. “We’re not just thinking about making sure they have something to eat. We want to make sure that it’s good for them and helps them.”
At Penn State, The Lion’s Pantry was created by students, for students to address food insecurity at the University Park campus. Any student with a valid Penn State ID can access the pantry.
Wallace, who is an undergraduate student, said students are balancing so many factors, such as educational, transportation and monetary, and they can’t always purchase food or make meals.
He said The Lion’s Pantry has evolved from not only making sure students have access to food but also giving them the resources needed to cook and use food on their own.
“It’s one thing to get them that food and have access to that food,” he said. “But it’s an entirely separate thing that they know what to do with that food to make it last and to have an impactful and nutritious meal.”
WPSU’s “Digging Deeper” explores how work being done at the University impacts the broader community. Penn State senior Rhea Jha serves as co-host and rounds out each episode by asking Barron questions that are on the minds of students, faculty, staff and community members.
Visit the WPSU website for more information on central Pennsylvania’s public media station.