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Buckeye Food Alliance opens second food pantry at Ohio State

Student organization adds location to serve north campus and off-campus students

A new campus-area food pantry is helping students at The Ohio State University fight food insecurity.

The Buckeye Food Alliance, an Ohio State student organization, opened a second food pantry Monday at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church at the corner of High Street and Woodruff Avenue. The location joins their main pantry in Lincoln Tower to serve undergraduate and graduate students.

“Really, it’s about accessibility and getting closer to the student population. Being in Lincoln Tower is great if you have access to a car. But if they’re walking, especially east of High Street or from north campus, it’s quite a long commute, especially if you’re carrying bags of groceries,” said Nick Fowler, Buckeye Food Alliance coordinator. “Most the students we see here are living off campus so we figured let’s get it as close to all of our students as possible and straddle the two corners of campus.”

The demand is real. Buckeye Food Alliance served 411 families during the 2018-2019 academic year and totaled 901 individual visits.

More than a third of college students nationwide say they don’t get enough to eat, according to a 2018 national survey across multiple universities. A 2014 Ohio State survey found that 15 percent of students have a “very low level of food security.”

“We offer students a variety of different fresh foods, frozen foods, non-perishable items, as well as personal care items and, occasionally, we will also have things like household cleaning items or cooking utensils that we also receive through donations,” said Joshua Debo, president of Buckeye Food Alliance. “We’re primarily here to serve as a way for students who are food insecure to help supplement their nutrition with different items that they might be lacking.”

Students interested in supporting the pantry can volunteer with the Buckeye Food Alliance (see the website for details on how to sign up). The organization also accepts monetary donations to help keep the shelves stocked.

The organization partners with the Mid-Ohio Food Bank to make every dollar count: A $5 donation can purchase up to 25 meals.

Fowler said the support for Buckeye Food Alliance shows the university is focusing on the health of all of its students.

“Ohio State is investing in student success. We know that food insecurity has an impact on mental health. We know food insecurity has an impact on grades,” he said. “The research supports that and I think Ohio State has seen that and is trying to address that. I think it means that we care about our students and their success in the classroom and beyond these walls.”

The pantry at St. Stephen’s is open Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. Anyone with a valid BuckID can use the pantry.

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