When Sarah Levine was food insecure, dinnertime didn’t end with the dishes.
“The stress of knowing where your next meal is coming from is… always on your mind,” the senior said.
Students who are food insecure do not know where their next meal is coming from, which leads to skipped meals and a constant headache.
And for a high-achieving student like Levine, a worry like that takes a toll. With work to do and money to earn, it became hard to balance it all.
“In the classroom, it’s nearly impossible to focus while you’re hungry. Your priorities are elsewhere –not on learning the content of the course,” she explains.
A recent survey found that thirty-five percent of Temple students suffer from food insecurity. And many, according to Sara Goldrick-Rab — a professor and researcher on the topic — keep their food problems hidden.
Goldrick-Rab says that’s not an excuse for the university to remain complacent.
“We have to do something to help students finish degrees. Just like there’s math tutors to help students with that, we need this. We need people who know what to say or do when a student is seriously distressed,” she said.
Temple’s food pantry is the first step, albeit one Goldrick-Rab says is overdue.
“It is an uphill battle, if you’re worried about the US news rankings or about how the people in the suburbs perceive the institution,” she said.
The pantry — now open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays — is available to anyone with an Owl Card, which includes all student and staff.
People like Dr. Theresa Powell, the VP of Temple Student Affairs, were emotional at the grand opening.
“I wanted to cry,” she said. “And I’m not a crybaby, but this touches me at the core of my heart. You have no idea how much I wanted this to happen. And to say it has happened and I’m a part of it it means so much.”
Today, Sarah Levine is able to afford food and helps run the entire pantry, also known as the Cherry Pantry.
“Knowing I might be able to help someone, so they don’t have to waste energy and time figuring out how to feed themselves, is the most tremendous feeling,” she said.