Excerpt from the winter 2022 issue of The Extension
Food insecurity in cities across the country has been well documented in recent years, and the Dayton area is no exception. This problem seems particularly visible around the holidays when stories of community efforts to help those in need show lines of cars or crowds surrounding volunteers at donation locations. Sadly, this is not simply a seasonal issue, and it may be a surprise to some to learn that the lack of food is a concern impacting many people beyond the poorest in our communities, including college students.
Kathy Morris, WSURA’s liaison to the Raider Food Pantry, delivered a couple of carloads of food donated by board members at the December meeting. In addition to our food drive, WSURA voted to donate $500 to the Raider Food Bank.
Wright State University has been working to confront food insecurity since 2009 when it established what was then called the Friendship Food Pantry (FFP). Located in a small space in Allyn Hall and operated by a dedicated group of volunteers, the FFP provided the foundation of a critical support service to caringly and confidentially assist students who were without the resources to cover basic food needs. Renamed the Raider Food Pantry (RFP), the program and its services are an extension of the Student Advocacy and Wellness Center (SAWC), which is an advocacy/case management service for students.
According to Tylar O’Neal-White, student advocate and case manager, the RFP is an important piece of a larger student service, because “students usually have needs outside of food, and the SAWC can help address those needs.”
The Raider Food Pantry currently supports about 30 students per week and is open Wednesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., in 055 Student Union. In the spring of 2020, the RFP started a free lunch program, setting out microwavable meals for students to grab as needed, no questions asked. O’Neal-White said that more than 500 lunches have been provided, and the program has helped eliminate the stigma of accepting help from the RFP. Assisting in the overall operation this year are two undergraduate social work students who are earning internship credit for their efforts.
The WSURA Board of Directors has voted to provide ongoing support to the Raider Food Pantry by way of an annual financial contribution and through the collection of the pantry’s most needed items at our meetings and events. Just as WSURA encourages member contributions in support of scholarship initiatives, the organization also encourages members to contribute gifts earmarked for the Raider Food Pantry.