CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KWWL) – When you’re setting up your monthly budget, there’s probably a line for groceries, now imagine if you had to choose between buying a textbook or buying food.
For more than half the students at the University of Northern Iowa, that’s a real concern.
“UNI students are in need and as a student, I think its really important to help other students,” said Kiersten Steinke, one of several students who run the panther pantry at uni.
“With the recent government shutdown, there was a lack of access to food stamps. Therefore students came in and said ‘I’m not receiving food stamps.’ So the pantry was a vital resource for them,” said Steinke.
Using a survey, UNI determined that 51% of its students were food insecure.
“I was keeping food in my drawer for students who mentioned they weren’t having access to a meal,” said Ashley Adams, the Panther Pantry adviser.
Partnering with the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, Adams says their donations go a lot further.
“If you buy a box of mac and cheese it’s 99 cents at a store. We can buy 10 boxes of mac and cheese for the price of your one box,” said Adams.
Food ranges from soup to chips, but the most popular item was cereal.
Items such as soap, deodorant, and other toiletries are also in high demand. Those items are purchased at normal prices. Adams is also looking to do more.
“Are we reaching out to all audiences? Do we need to reach out to different audiences? And how do we do that? We understand that food insecurity doesn’t pick who it targets, right?” said Adams.
The pantry is open every day throughout the week during the school year and for the summer months, they’re looking at when they’ll be open and how many volunteers they’ll need.
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