Did you know that the Student Volunteer Center operates a food pantry for Bellevue College students and staff? You might even have walked past it before. It’s located outside the Student Programs office in C212. The food pantry is a place where students and staff can find sealed, non-perishable food items to eat if they don’t have an alternative meal.
The goal of the Bulldog Food Pantry is to provide options for students and staff who face food insecurity. It runs on an honor system, with the motto “Take what you need, leave what you can.” Anyone is welcome to use it and donations are always encouraged.
Food insecurity is a challenge facing many students here at BC and across the nation. Food insecurity is defined as “the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.” This could mean cutting down on portion sizes, skipping meals or going a whole day without food.
Although the estimated number of those affected varies from school to school, studies suggest that up to 50 percent of college students experience food insecurity while in school. Not eating enough nutritional food or not eating at all has a proven effect on academic performance. With finals around the corner, it’s important for students to get enough to eat.
The holidays can be a particularly challenging time for people facing food insecurity. Not only is there a general increase in spending, but the cold winter months bring on some additional bills. With a heavy social focus on consumerism, many people forget that some don’t have a reliable food source.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Americans waste 172 million pounds of turkey, 48 million pounds of sweet potatoes, 45 million pounds of green beans, 40 million pounds of mashed potatoes, 38 million pounds of stuffing, 35 million pounds of cranberry sauce, 30 million pounds of gravy, 29 million pounds of vegetables, 14 million pounds of dinner rolls and 3.5 million pounds of butter during the Thanksgiving season. All of that adds up to a lot that could be used to benefit the community.
If you want to know how you can help, just be mindful. Grocery stores and supermarkets often offer deals for buying in bulk around this time of year. If you find you have more food ingredients than you need, set it aside beforeyou start cooking – the food pantry can’t accept cooked items.
The Student Volunteer Center also runs food drives throughout the year. The next one is planned for January and February, and there will be prizes for donations from students. Your donated food, in the form of unopened nonperishables, is always welcome at the Bulldog Food Pantry.