By SARA SAXTON/Montana State News
About 31 percent of college students in Bozeman have experienced monthly food insecurity, according to Anna Diffenderfer, the facility advisor for the sustainable foods and bioenergy department at Montana State University. Proper nutrition is vital for learning and unfortunately, ramen doesn’t provide adequate nutrition to feed thinking minds.
To meet this need, Diffenderfer and a group of her students have proposed creating the Bobcat Pantry, which will be a food bank providing free food to students who have little money to spend on groceries. Diffenderfer teaches the program’s senior capstone course. The idea for the Bobcat Pantry was born from a group effort to design a project for the senior community service project.
The team made a proposal to the student senate to house the Bobcat Pantry on the MSU campus. The business proposal passed with a vote of 16‐0, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
Hunger is becoming a growing problem for college students across the country. Colleges nationwide have started to open up food pantries on campus for their students to make buying groceries easier on their wallets while reducing the stress of having to spend a large portion of their budget to keep their bodies and minds nourished.
One of the issues Diffenderfer and her students are trying to address is the hesitance students may feel to accept help.
“Our strategy is to really abolish the stigmas that go along with food insecurity,” said Diffenderfer, “we’re approaching it with the idea that this is fine and that there is no shame in needing this service.”
Their food supply will come from various places in the community. The Gallatin Valley Food Bank will be helping by donating their extra food along with cooperatively purchasing things like bulk grains to share between the organizations, according to Diffenderfer. They will also arrange various food drives and ask for donations from people in the Bozeman community.
The Bobcat Pantry has been provided with $2,000 in initial funding from the campus sustainability advisory council along with some other offers from various groups of people. Diffenderfer said that, “it’s looking bright.”
Diffenderfer said one of the challenges the Bobcat Pantry team is trying to solve is “finding a permanent place for the food bank to be located.”
The team is currently organizing a food drive to happen during the week before Easter. With a food or money donation, participants will be entered into an egg hunt. For more information about this event and events to come, check out the Bobcat Pantry Facebook page.
– Edited by Lilly Brogger