Story by Robin Chenoweth
When COVID-19 closed the nation’s campuses in March, student resources suddenly became less accessible. And yet, a number of Ohio State students experiencing food insecurity continued to eat — thanks to a food pantry co-run by the Advocates for Communities and Education Scholars and the college’s Office of Undergraduate Student Services.
Throughout spring and summer, food and personal care items collected by the student group were distributed outside the PAES building, from a bin containing staples such as peanut butter, canned fruit, macaroni and cheese, granola bars, shampoo and bar soap.
Even before the pandemic, a report by the Government Accountability Office indicated that as many as 30% of college students nationwide might be food insecure, based on surveys from 31 colleges and universities. Some, the report determined, are at risk for dropping out. Students who are low-income and raising children are particularly vulnerable.
With the pandemic and resulting economic crisis, that number is sure to increase this fall, said Sophie Turner, a second-year special education student and the service chair for ACES, a scholars’ group that includes many EHE students.
“A lot of people, especially upperclassmen, were relying on part-time jobs. Then those got furloughed,” Turner said. Retail establishments, libraries, pools and gyms closed. Most students hadn’t worked enough hours to qualify for unemployment. Neither did they receive stimulus checks if their parents claimed them as dependents.