By Jambar Contributor
The Student Government Association at Youngstown State University will be relocating their food pantry this month in hopes of better serving members of the student body.
On Apr. 20, 2016, SGA put a program into effect to provide goods to students who could not afford them from a space in Kilcawley Center. Since its installation, the pantry has made non-perishables and toiletry items available to any student with a YSU ID.
Ernie Barkett, SGA’s executive vice-president, briefly explained where the pantry will be located.
“[It is] currently located on the first floor of the Kilcawley Center across from Wendy’s,” Barkett said. “The new location will be next to Wendy’s where the National Guard was formerly located.”
Just a short move from its current place of operation, the desire for the pantry’s initial presence came after some discussion.
“We always knew there was a need for the pantry,” Barkett said. “It was just a matter of finding the room and resources.”
Improvements to the food pantry initiative come on the heels of Ohio’s most recent poverty report conducted by the Ohio Developmental Services Agency. Reiterated is the 2015 statistic revealing the poverty rates of Ohio’s 10 largest cities, with Youngstown leading the pack with 38.3 percent of people living in poverty.
Since 1999, poverty rates in Youngstown have increased by 13.5 percent, resulting in an economic climate that overshadows much larger cities such as Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati in terms of percentages. With such a poverty epidemic on the rise, the desire for a food pantry at YSU does not come as much of a surprise.
SGA’s president, Rayann Atway, also addressed the steadily growing need for a food pantry on YSU’s campus.
“In Spring of 2017, we had 80 visits and 35 of them were unduplicated students,” Atway said. “This semester, we expect to see that number grow.”
Atway and the rest of YSU’s SGA have been working diligently toward adding to their list of contributors while preparing for the change in locale.
“We plan on moving all of our donations and everything that we have in the current pantry to our new space … sometime before November, which is quickly approaching,” Atway said. “We’ve gotten some donations from the YSU PD and the honors college. So, we’re always happy that we are increasing our partnership and we hope to spotlight them in our press release.”
YSU Provost Martin Abraham also acknowledged the food pantry, expressing its necessity for the success of students without the means to otherwise acquire their meals.
“Unfortunately, we have students at YSU who don’t have the means to purchase sufficient food,” Abraham said. “Hungry students generally are less able to succeed in the classroom. The food pantry provides a tremendous service to help those students get the food that they need so that they can be successful.”
The food pantry will be open at its new site on Mondays from 10 a.m. to noon and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
“We are deeply indebted to the SGA for initiating this effort and keeping it going,” Abraham said. “It is a tremendous service for our students.”