FAU tackles hunger on campus

The Beyond Food program allows students in need to pick up a three-day supply of canned goods.


The program takes donations of canned food at the Weppner Center in the Student Union, room 214. Photo courtesy of Flickr

Jade Jaramillo, Contributing Writer

All of Florida’s 11 other public universities have developed food pantry programs to help students find a meal when in need, and FAU is no different.  

The Beyond Food program on the Boca campus is one of many such programs across the state trying to make a dent in food insecurity, which is when somebody doesn’t have a stable supply of nutritious food. Students can pick up a three-day supply of canned goods and other nonperishable food once a month by requesting it online, as well as get information about other on- and off-campus resources like community organization Boca Helping Hands to supplement FAU’s help.

Emergency one-day rations are also available at the University Village Apartments’ front desk, and are limited to one a month per student as well, although distribution of both the one- and three-day pack are subject to availability.

The program mainly works by referrals, through which faculty, staff, and students direct people to the pantry online where they can schedule a time to pick up their food package. But the Dean of Students’ Office in room 226 of the Student Services building also accepts walk-ins, Assistant Dean of Students Samieca Morgan said.  

Palm Beach and Broward counties both have 14 percent of their populations uncertain of their next meal, which is higher than the national average of 11 percent, according to Feeding America and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But food insecurity is especially common among students. In a study done by the Wisconsin HOPE lab on 43,000 students from 66 institutions across the U.S., 36 percent of university students were food insecure within the last 30 days as of polling time. And the number was even higher at community colleges — 42 percent.

“Part of what we’re seeing here is people who appear to be pushed downward, who are struggling more, because they’re also grappling with the high price of higher education. And some of them — including people who, frankly, look middle class — are now struggling with food or housing insecurity because their resources pale in comparison to those high college prices,” HOPE lab founder Sara Goldrick-Rab said.

Despite the widespread disparity, the FAU community has been willing to step forward. Input from faculty, staff, and students has allowed the program to continue aiding students throughout the school year.

“We have not historically required a budget to purchase food and other items due to the number of donations received,” Morgan said.

Donations of canned or long-lasting food such as fruit, microwaveable soup, and peanut butter are accepted at the Weppner Center in the Boca Student Union, room 206. The University Press reached out to the program about how many students utilize their services, but did not receive a response as of publication time.

Jade Jaramillo is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].