According to Feeding America and Food and Nutrition Services, 48% of college students are food insecure.
Food insecurity is the feeling of not knowing where your next meal is going to come from. Some college students have to make the difficult decision to cut back on spending money on food and transportation to be able to afford other expenses.
A group of students at Auburn is taking a stand against food insecurity with food pantries on campus for students who are food insecure. The Little Food Library is a resource on Auburn’s campus that provides non-perishables for students in need.
The pantry was added in 2018 and is located in the parking deck entrance of the Ralph Brown Draughon Library.
According to Joshua Johnston, senior in sociology and English, Lee County is one of the most difficult places in Alabama to provide support to people who are food insecure.
Johnston said one of the first minds behind the Little Food Library was Sarah Pitts. Pitts knew the need for food on campus and drew from the idea of free-book libraries in cities, so she, along with Johnston, put her idea into action and the library was the result.
The impetus behind the Little Food Library was to reduce food insecurity for individuals while minimizing the stigma around taking free food. The pantry was placed in the foyer of RBD to be both accessible and discrete.
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Johnston said the design of the pantry was to make it more comfortable for someone who may need food but does not want to be seen as someone who accepts handouts.
The Little Food Library is also meant to be for students, by students. Anybody who has non-perishable food that they would like to donate can place the food in the pantry, no questions asked.
According to Johnston, the Little Food Library has proven effective so far. It has had continuous traffic from the first week it was installed.
“The first time we went to replace the food, we saw that the Library was filled with food that we hadn’t put in there,” Johnston said. “It was nice to see that people on campus were looking out for each other.”
Foods that can be donated to the Little Food Library are canned vegetables, fruits, soup, packaged meals, peanut butter, crackers and water. Universities Fighting World Hunger says that anything perishable, such as fresh fruit, dairy, meat or bread, should not be donated.
The Little Food Library is only one of the resources on Auburn’s campus that looks to combat food insecurity at the University and surrounding areas.
Campus Kitchens is an on-campus organization that takes unserved food from Auburn’s dining halls and delivers it to community members.
Beat Bama Food Drive also collects food for donations to the surrounding area in an annual friendly competition against the University of Alabama.
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