Food insecurity extends even to college campuses

By Christine L. Bordelon, Clarion Herald

Take what you need. Leave what you can.”

That’s the slogan of Iggy’s Cupboard, a food pantry at Loyola University New Orleans, which opened last November  and is operated by the Student Life and Ministry (SLM) office and the Student Government Association on campus.

“We don’t want students to look at this as a charity – we want them to see this as a shopping experience,” said Heather Malveaux, MPS, MP, director of social justice and immersion programs for the Office of Student Life and Ministry at Loyola.

Amazingly, even at a private university where the cost of tuition, textbooks, room and board is significant, the need for food exists.

The food pantry was named “Iggy’s Cupboard” by the student body as a nod to the statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola on campus, which bears the nickname “Iggy.”

The pantry stocks basic staples that will be both nutritional and filling.

The pantry offers  breakfast items; college microwave favorites such as ramen noodles, mac and cheese and canned goods; snack bars; occasional kitchen items such as pots and pans, can openers; and always-in-demand hygiene items such as shampoos, toothpaste, soap and hand wipes.

 

“Food Care Kits” of staples such as rice, beans, spaghetti, sauce, snacks, cereal and oatmeal are also available, especially for foreign students who don’t go home for the holidays and discover that on-campus food sources are closed.

“There is definitely a need,” said Ignatian Volunteer Corps member Frank Resignola. “I had always thought, who at Loyola would need food?”

To his amazement, Resignola found out differently. He said everyone who visits appreciates the extra help.

Malveaux said 40% of Loyola’s new freshman class makes use of federal Pell grants. In 2018, the pantry distributed 2,000 pounds of food (everything is weighed). This fall semester alone, through October, more than 250 people had visited Iggy’s Cupboard.

“Food insecurity is common not just at Loyola but across all college campuses (nationwide),” she said.

“I think it is very helpful for people who suffer from food insecurity,” freshman and first-time visitor Marie Haddad said. “I know a lot of people on campus who could benefit from this (but think there’s a stigma attached). If you need help, the resources are here.”

Iggy’s Cupboard started informally last fall in the community theater box office on campus, but it was cumbersome for students to have to ask for a key from a staff member to get to where the food was stored.

The new location allows complete anonymity, only asking patrons what year they are in if they are a student or if they are faculty or staff. Malveaux said the aim is to completely remove the stigma of hunger and serve with dignity as many people as possible who have food insecurity.

“Some come in to get odds and ends they need, while others get full bags of everything they need,” Malveaux said.

She said repeat business generally comes from word of mouth of faculty and students.

Iggy’s Cupboard is supported by donations and $4,000 annually from the Student Government Association. Students can even donate “Wolf Bucks” and “meal swaps.” Sodexo – the on-campus food service – turns those donations into meals.

Over the first year, 500 meals were donated, translating into 1,000 free meals, and more than $2,000 in Wolf Bucks were donated by students, Malveaux said. Ignatius Chapel attendees also held an “End the Hunger” campaign and donated money to Iggy’s Cupboard.

“There’s been an outpouring of donations from faculty, students and staff,” she said.

This year, free school supplies and linens were donated, and a graduate sorority chapter gave Iggy’s Cupboard a $2,000 grant to buy necessities.

You can help

Iggy’s Cupboard is having a fall donation drive through Nov. 20 to replenish its supplies for students who remain on campus during the holidays and need food. The public is invited to give a monetary donation, purchase items from the Cupboard’s Amazon wish list or drop off items in the lower level of the Danna Center on campus, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. weekdays; on Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m.-7 p.m. The wish list or giving link is available at http://studentaffairs.loyno.edu/cocurricular/iggys-cupboard.

Christine Bordelon can be reached at cbordelon@clarionherald.org.

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