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University student food insecurity on the rise

By Jeri Davis

As it is among people from all different walks of life around the nation, food insecurity is on the rise among college students at the University of Nevada, Reno. According to a press release from the university, nearly a quarter of its students struggle with food insecurity—and the school’s food pantry, Pack Provisions, is expecting the need for nutrition assistance to double during this academic year.

“U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as lacking consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. For students without access to daily nutrition, food insecurity hinders their ability to perform academically,” the university reported.

Pack Provisions is aiming to address student needs for essentials such as perishable and non-perishable food items, as well as school supplies and hygiene products.

Pack Provisions is operated by the Associated Students of the University of Nevada (ASUN) Center for Student Engagement. It used to be a “stop and shop” location for essentials but shifted gears in March when social distancing requirement became necessary. It now offers pickup and delivery through Campus Escort services. Additionally, since the start of the pandemic, a “Grocery Fund” was made available for qualifying students to receive a direct deposit every two weeks to help pay for food.

Pack Provisions now offers food and hygiene item delivery to students as part of its services.
Pack Provisions now offers food and hygiene item delivery to students as part of its services. Image: UNR

“Last academic year, Pack Provisions had 1,405 total visits,” said KaPreace Young, coordinator for student outreach at the University’s Center for Student Engagement. “This year, we’re seeing double the usage as nearly two-thirds of students report their financial situation has become more stressful as a result of the pandemic.”

According to the release, “Given the growing need, Pack Provisions has teamed up with the University of Nevada, Reno Foundation in launching its annual crowdfunding campaign with the goal to raise $24,000 in recognition of the 24% of students who report food insecurity.”

Last year, the fundraising campaign secured more than $41,000 for the grocery fund.

“We realize the immense hardships felt by people across our community, our state and our nation due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Young said. “This campaign is one effort to help students who continue to be impacted, perhaps now more than ever. Any amount will help us make a difference. One dollar can feed a student for three meals and a $10 donation can feed a student for up to a month.”

Last year’s fundraising campaign “enabled Pack Provisions to meet the unanticipated increased student needs due to the pandemic,” according to Torrey Hood, university director of annual giving. “We appreciate the ongoing support of Pack Provisions from members of the Pack near and far. This year, some of the University’s corporate partners have also agreed to help.”

These community partners include Plumas Bank, Bank of America and Greater Nevada Credit Union, which are doing matching gift donations.

This Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1, and until the end of the year, the university and the ASUN Center for Student Engagement are asking the community to once again consider making a donation to Pack Provisions.

People interested in donating can visit, crowdfund.unr.edu/packprovisions2020.

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