New Supplemental Food Resource on Campus
Many college students joke about living off of only ramen and caffeinated beverages, but food insecurity has become a prevalent concern on college campuses. Individuals who are not sustained in terms of nutritional needs have a hard time focusing and retaining the information they learn in class. As a result, they tend to give off poor academic performances, causing a drop in student success rates.
Jonathon Hager, the Assistant Dean of Students and Director for Student Involvement and Belonging, explained that the basic needs of students need to be met for them to be successful academically and socially. Drawing on Mount St. Mary’s commitment to helping students reach success, a new supplemental food resource on campus called Mount Table was created to provide students with the opportunity to receive food at no extra cost.
“Right now, the way we have got it set up is we are offering prepackaged bags of food. Each bag contains roughly enough food for three days, so students can come twice a week if needed,” stated Dr. Layton Field, the Assistant Professor of Sociology and Director of Mount CARiTAS.
Located in Lower McGowan in room 107, Mount Table is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Before being granted access to Mount Table, students are required to fill out a quick survey assessing their food needs. The survey can be accessed through https://tinyurl.com/mounttable or by scanning a QR code found on flyers posted throughout the campus. Participation will remain strictly confidential, all faculty, administrators, staff and students involved in the program were required to sign nondisclosure agreements protecting the identity of students who utilize this program.
“My hope is that Mount Table will make us generally more aware of one another and care for one another more,” said Brendan Johnson, Acting Director of Campus Ministry & Office of Social Justice. “I don’t want this to feel like McDonald’s where you drive up to the drive-thru grab your stuff and then just go, but that there’s a person on the other side of the bag that is caring for them, even if they can’t see them and wants their best and their success not just academically but their whole lives.”
Last fall, Field ran a survey that identified about 29% of the student population on campus were food insecure. “That number was higher for students of color, students without a meal plan and students living off-campus. So, clearly there was a need in our own campus community to address and to respond to this issue,” he explained.
A food insecurity task force was instituted, and they began to put together a series of recommendations as to how this problem could be addressed. Field recalled that one of these ideas was starting a new food pantry here on campus. “That was one of those things that it seemed like it's kind of a no brainer, like we have the facilities we have the resources how can we make this happen?”
Recently, Mount Table joined forces with the Athletic Department for their food drive. Donations made to the food drive will be used to support Mount Table, as well as the Emmitsburg Food Bank. Some of the items needed are applesauce, fruit packed in juice, granola & protein bars, oatmeal and other non-perishable food items. Mount Table is looking to partner with other local food banks and resources for the future to help ensure that students are getting their basic needs are met.