pantryHickory – Lenoir-Rhyne University recently opened the Bear Essentials Food Pantry to help serve an unknown population in need – its students.

Food insecurity, the lack of access to affordable, nutritious food, is an issue people from communities around the country face. According to a Hunger on Campus report in October 2016, it shows that the college campus hunger problem goes far beyond a few sad stories. It surveyed more than 3,000 students at a mix of 34 community and four-year colleges, finding that 48 percent experienced food insecurity. The report is authored by a collection of campus-based groups, including the College and University Food Bank Alliance, the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, the Student Government Resource Center, and the Student Public Interest Research Groups.

Locally, some LRU students face that same food insecurity.

“We are thankful for the opportunity to serve our college students,” said Jenny Smith, Associate Dean of Students and Director of the Cornerstone Student Support and Wellness Center. “Obviously, we wish our students didn’t have to live with food insecurity but we recognize that some do, and we are fortunate to be able to provide the pantry as a resource.”

The University food pantry is free for currently enrolled LRU students and operates solely on donations. Most needed food items include canned meats, peanut butter, jelly, boxed meals, and canned fruits and vegetables. The pantry also accepts donations for college-age student clothing, toiletries, feminine hygiene products, and laundry detergent.

“Students who use the Bear Essentials Food Pantry do not need to verify financial need, and we trust that students will use the food pantry only when they have a need for this resource,” Smith said. “We understand that some students who use the pantry will have a chronic need for food, while other students may only have a temporary need.”

The Bear Essentials Food Pantry is located in the Cornerstone Student Support & Wellness Center located at 735 8th Ave. NE. Donations are accepted on weekdays from 8am to 5pm with the exception of noon to 1pm.

For additional information on the Bear Essentials Food Pantry, call 828.328.7959.