Urgent Call to Help Students Going Hungry at Kutztown University

Last week Leah Cassellia, Director of the Office of Student Involvement at Kutztown University sent out an email calling for faculty and staff support for student-led project to address food insecurity among students by opening a food pantry on campus. According to Cassellia, the seventeen students spearheading the project were still in the planning stages, gathering information, and assessing needs.

This morning, Cassellia wrote to faculty and staff again with grave concern:

You may recall that last week I send a message out about food insecurity regarding our student population.  At the same time that message went out, a message went out to students to help us to assess student need.  Unfortunately, we have come to learn that we have several students that report that they are hungry on a daily basis.  Further distressing is the number of students that report that they know one or more KU students that are hungry on a daily basis. {GO RIGHT TO CALL TO ACTION HERE}

Growth in college campus food banks (The Washington Post/Source: Michigan State University Student Food Bank)

The fact that college students are going hungry — or, who are “food insecure” in current jargon — runs counter to our popular ideas about who college students are and what they experience. However, as the Washington Post reported last year, Kutztown University is not unique in higher education:

A problem known as “food insecurity” — a lack of nutritional food — is not typically associated with U.S. college students. But it is increasingly on the radar of administrators, who report seeing more hungry students, especially at schools that enroll a high percentage of youths who are from low-income families or are the first generation to attend college.

At the same time that higher education is seen as key to financial security, tuition and living expenses are rising astronomically, making it all the more tempting for students to cut corners on food.

“Between paying rent, paying utilities and then trying to buy food, that’s where we see the most insecurity because that’s the most flexible,” said Monica Gray, director of programs at the College Success Foundation-District of Columbia, which helps low-income high school students go to college.

And while Kutztown University might not be alone, the need to make sure students have enough food right now is even more pressing as students are completing final papers and prepare for their final exams next week. Cassellia put out this urgent call for action and we want to echo her call:


As a way to assist these students in completing the semester, we will collect non-perishables that students can come and pick up from our office next week during finals so they can fill their bellies.  If you prefer to make a monetary donation, we can shop for you.  Please drop off any donations you may be able to make to the Office of Student Involvement, MSU 153, on Monday morning- or early next week.  We are located across from the KU Campus Store in the McFarland Student Union, and open 8am until 4:30pm daily.

We are aware that this is last-minute, but we cannot in good conscience know about these needs and not address them if we have the ability to do so.  This community had such an outpouring of support to contribute food that we believe we can get enough donations to meet this immediate need.  If any donations are left, we will use them to begin a stock for a campus food pantry resource or donate them to Friend, Inc.

If you are not in the immediate area but still want to help, please contact Leah Cassellia, Director of the Office of Student Involvement here:

Raging Chicken Press will continue to follow this story and help in any way that we can. We will also be digging into the causes and scope of hunger on colleges campuses in the coming weeks. Please contact Leah Cassellia, contribute what you can, and thank her for her advocacy on the behalf of the neediest students.

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2 Comments on Urgent Call to Help Students Going Hungry at Kutztown University

  1. Students can apply for food stamps. Most don’t know that. The student loans are not considered income. It’s a loan.

    There’s also a food pantry in Kutztown

    Friends Inc…

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