Student efforts to bring food pantry to campus slowed

Student Life will form taskforce to find solution for food insecurity on campus


Student leaders hoped to create an on-campus food pantry to tackle the growing problem of food insecurity on college campuses, but efforts to partner with UB administration have recently slowed.

Sub-Board I, Inc., the nonprofit accounting organization run by the seven student governments, sent the office of Student Life a proposal Feb. 25 asking Vice President A. Scott Weber to consider partnering with SBI to fund the pantry, for an estimated $25,000 annually.

Weber decided instead to form a taskforce to “evaluate ideas, models, infrastructure and research costs related to food insecurity on campus, with input from multiple stakeholders across campus,” he said in an email.

Twenty-five percent of UB students experience some level of food insecurity, according to a recent National College Health Assesment report. The report also found that 26 percent of participants worried their food would run out before they had money to buy more.

SBI treasurer Kyle Murphy was at the center of talks between SBI and Student Life to make the pantry possible. Murphy said Weber’s taskforce initiative is a show of hesitation.

“This food pantry never aimed to ‘fix’ food insecurity. You’re never going to fix food insecurity in Buffalo,” Murphy said. “The food insecurity is due to systemic poverty, systematically poor education in Buffalo school districts. It’s due to falling TA salaries, rising tuitions and apartment costs. A free food pantry won’t fix the food insecurity issue, but it will certainly help.”

Murphy said SBI will continue to advocate for an on-campus food pantry and will focus on increased support for off-campus food pantries that are also religious centers.

UB provides students with access to an off-campus food pantry through its partnership with the University Presbyterian Church on Main Street.

Even so, some students expressed concerns over the location’s distance from North Campus, UB’s lack of advertisement for the pantry and potential stigma associated with taking food from a religious institution.

“What we’re advocating for is very simple, something many other universities have done, and it’s something that I think they will benefit from if they put a food pantry on campus,” Murphy said.

Anna Savchenko is an assistant news editor and can be reached at anna.savchenko@ubspectrum.com and @annasavchenkooo