For some CU Boulder students, food insecurity is part of their reality. In an anonymous survey, one student said: “My financial situation is a huge burden that impacts my everyday life at CU. It is a struggle every day to afford basic things, and I have taken out a huge amount of loans because I don’t have very much family contribution.”
CU Boulder hopes to provide relief. Since 2016, the CU Food Assistance Committee has partnered with Community Food Share in Louisville, Colorado, to provide food donations to students in need. CU has hosted mobile campus food drives and opened mini pantries around campus to provide students with food.
But when the pandemic hit, food insecurity rose.
“When we started to realize the gravity of COVID-19, we started to ask, ‘What does this look like long-term?’” said Amanda Scuderi of CU Boulder’s Volunteer Resource Center (VRC).
The VRC launched Feed the Stampede in 2020 to provide students with regular food assistance and food-related resources. In September 2020, the Buff Pantry opened in the University Memorial Center near the CU Book Store. With continuing donations from Community Food Share, students have access to shelf-stable products — including the ever-popular mac and cheese — fresh produce, frozen foods and personal items. Students can visit the pantry weekly.
“Oftentimes, the student isn’t just supporting themselves,” said Scuderi. “They may have roommates, a partner or children they also are supporting.” During the fall 2021 semester, Buff Pantry had 1,899 visits from 494 students. Twenty students voluntarily staff the pantry.
Said VRC director Hannah Wilks: “When we intervene to combat students’’ food insecurity, we know they are more likely to be successful in college.”
Photo by Steffen Baerend, Student Affairs Communication, University of Colorado Boulder