Kroger Partners With UNT to Fight Student Food Insecurity – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Food giant Kroger is partnering with the University of North Texas to feed food insecure students.
As part of the Zero Hunger Zero Waste commitment, The Kroger Co. presented UNT executives with a financial commitment of USD 250,000 on Thursday morning.
A growing number of colleges and universities across the country are adding pantries on campus to help students who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
Nationwide, 30% of college students are food unsafe, which can impact student success and contribute to mental health issues. This is the result of research by UNT anthropology professor Lisa Henry.
In 2015, the UNT Dean of Studies opened a pantry on campus that served more than 10,000 visitors.
The new partnership will include a new name for the food bank: UNT Food Pantry Presented by Kroger.
The new funding will help keep the shelves stocked and hire two student staff.
According to the UNT dean of studies, demand has increased in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have a lot of campus and community partners who keep having pizza parties for free lunches,” said student dean Maureen McGuiness. “In the middle of a pandemic, there is no such thing.”
She says that just last week 146 students sought help from the pantry, which normally takes care of 80 students.
Students in need include DACA recipients and international students whose funding is cut or whose parents can no longer contribute as much money as before, McGuiness said.
“Our students often use all of their financial support to pay for their books, their classes, and their fees, and then they just think that they’re just going to get the food working, they’ll find it somehow,” she said.
The pantry accommodates students with dietary restrictions, including vegans.
While some students faced with food insecurity may experience feelings of shame, others are eager to voice their needs, McGuiness said.
A back door entrance is available in the pantry at the Diamond Eagle Student Resource Center in hopes of avoiding any embarrassment for the students.
The pantry is currently being shipped to the roadside amid the pandemic.
“The fact that a private company like Kroger comes to the rescue is, in my opinion, part of the national recognition that food insecurity is a national problem,” said UNT President Neal Smatresk. “We have now found a way to partner with Kroger to ensure there is no stigma attached to it. You can get food and guess what? It takes fuel to reach the finish line and this will fuel their aspirations and dreams. “
To find out more about the UNT Food Pantry presented by Kroger, click here.