The University of Florida has begun work on an on-campus food pantry.
The Field and Fork Food Pantry is aiming to help curb hunger at the university by offering UF students and staff free, nutritious food.
The pantry is scheduled to open mid-summer. Access to the pantry will be limited to those with valid UF identification.
A survey commissioned by Jack Payne, senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources, showed a need for a program to help the hungry at UF.
“Much to our surprise, ten percent of our student body goes hungry,” Payne said. “They don’t have enough money to buy enough food to satisfy hunger.”
The renovation is taking an existing building at the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences that is currently being used as storage and is transforming it into a working pantry.
Susan Webster, a student representative on the pantry project, asked students what they wanted to see change at UF when she was campaigning.
“They said, ‘you know, I would really like a meal, I’m here on scholarship and that’s something that I find hard is to find a meal,’” Webster said.
“Both IFAS and Jack Payne determined we needed a food pantry and at the same time we had a university committee that had just started saying we need a food pantry and so the two came together,” said Jen Day Shaw, Dean of Students.
The pantry has plans to offer fresh produce, non-perishable foods, canned goods and toiletries.
The facility will eventually offer educational programs like cooking classes, tips on nutrition and lessons on budgeting.
Other land-grant institutions have also opened food pantries, Payne said. The University of Georgia opened a student food pantry in 2011. Louisiana State University opened one in 2013.
“The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has recast the starving student cliché as a serious policy issue: Hunger as a barrier to higher education,” said Payne.