IU Kokomo students launch food pantry to help classmates

(WISH Photo)

KOKOMO, Ind. (WISH) — Students at Indiana University Kokomo are taking matters into their own hands to help students struggling to afford food.

Earlier this semester they launched an on-campus food pantry.

“We’re trying to ultimately lead to student success,” said Adam Smith, a professor at the university and the students’ adviser.

They say much of their success is hinged upon the students’ ability to get a good meal.

“You never want anybody to go hungry,” said Matthew Spencer, an IUK undergrad who helped launch the food pantry.

The pantry is called the Cougar Cupboard, a play on their school mascot.

“I had a girl the other day, she split a can of soup and was saving the rest of it for supper because she wasn’t sure if she had enough money to make it through that night,” said Trisha Skarda, who also helped launch the food pantry.

Cougar Cupboard started with just $100, but a recent campus-wide food drive brought in over 600 food items.

“Somebody’s actually getting the help they need to get through the day,” said Skarda.

Over half of the student population at IUK receives some sort of financial aid. But the problem of food insecurity among college students is nationwide.

“People ages 18-22, still living at home, are not eligible for food stamps if they are enrolled in college full time, so they’re seeing a cut for that for their families,” said Chelsi Day, the director of Counseling and Psychological Services at the university.

The students who launched the food pantry are business students involved with Enactus, an international non-profit.

“Students use their expertise that they’ve been getting in their business classrooms to make an impact in the community and empower people in their lives,” said Smith.

Through surveys, they’ll study how widespread food security is on campus. But based on the early success they hope to continue to address the need.

“I just hope to see it grow,” said Skarda.

“The mission will remain the same to help anyone who’s food insecure,” said Smith.

The food pantry is located on the second floor of the Kelley Student Center. It’s open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The Cougar Cupboard is specifically for students, however an ID is not required to get food.

If you’re not an IUK student and need help obtaining food, here is a link to area food pantries.

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