The Shop

Rows of nonperishable foods stock the shelves of Iowa State's food pantry, The SHOP, located in room 2616 of the Food Sciences Building. Students who experience food insecurity can stop by to grab a meal for free when they need it.

What if you had to decide between tuition or dinner? A college diploma or nutrition? All across the country, even here at Iowa State University, students struggle to purchase food due to fears of increasing their already high college expenses.

Unfortunately, the decision between tuition and dinner usually results in students choosing academics over their personal health. Food insecurity is a real but sensitive and underrepresented issue. Food insecurity is the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

According to the New York Times, “Temple University’s Hope Center for College, Community and Justice indicated that 45 percent of student respondents from over 100 institutions said they had been food insecure in the past 30 days. In New York, the nonprofit found that among City University of New York (CUNY) students, 48 percent had been food insecure in the past 30 days.” The conditions in Iowa are no different. According to Feeding America, approximately one in nine Iowans experience food insecurity.

These statistics should concern you, especially since these statistics are drastically higher for students with lower socioeconomic statuses or who belong to a minority group. For those of you who are food insecure or are in need of some extra support on campus, The SHOP, along with other satellite pantries, are available to you so that you can eat dinner or breakfast on days where you feel you have to skip.

The Iowa State Daily covered The SHOP last September, informing students of the miracles The SHOP provides for students who are in need of a little more food. Although the Daily covered The SHOP earlier last school year, we have a new demographic of nearly 6,000 new college students who know nothing about The SHOP or its benefits (give or take a few more thousand sophomores and upperclassman).

The struggle for food is impacted by both intrinsic and extrinsic factors, socioeconomic or psychological. Some students know they need food, while others do not realize they are food insecure. This is not something to be ashamed of; this is a common issue faced by many students, whether they know they are in need or not. Food insecurity heavily impacts mental health, focus and overall quality of life. Who doesn’t want a good meal now and then? Students should not have to choose between their tuition or their next meal.

With The SHOP, you do not have to choose. The SHOP offers more than just food; it also offers community, volunteer opportunities and convenience. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Friday at 2616 in the Food Science Building. It’s hidden away in a private location because, well, it’s our pantry! Come and go as you please. Getting sick? Come and get some soup.

The SHOP is a hidden but incredible resource that all students should be aware of when going into college, whether you struggle with food insecurity or not. If you know about the resource, inform others. For all you know, your roommate may want to stop by the campus pantry for a little shopping trip. Thank you to The SHOP!

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