We strive to provide healthy and filling options along with quick and easy meals and snacks. We also have school supplies and personal hygiene products.
With more than one-third of university students nationally food insecure, Sarah Snyder knew she had to do something to help.
Eighteen months ago, the University of Wisconsin-Stout residence life coordinator started offering some nonperishable food items at her office for hungry students, but she knew there was only so much she could do. Seeing the need, she reached out to counseling, student health, dining, housing and other campus services and was able to do something more.
On April 2, Helping Hand food plus pantry opened at UW-Stout for all students. Helping Hand provides access to food and other life essentials for students facing any level of food insecurity.
“Food access should not be a barrier for someone to get an education,” Snyder said. “We strive to provide healthy and filling options along with quick and easy meals and snacks.”
Other data showing the student need for Helping Hand include:
- In 2015, 1,917 UW-Stout students, 23 percent, were at or below the 150 percent level of the federal poverty level.
- In the 2017-18 academic year, 2,297 students, 27 percent, qualified for federal Pell grants for low-income students.
- This school year 990 undergraduate students had zero estimated family contribution toward their education as part of their federal financial aid form.
- According to a 2018 survey by the Wisconsin Hope Lab, 36 percent of university students in Wisconsin were food insecure, which affects their ability to concentrate and can impact their grades. Many reported skipping meals or cutting meal sizes because of lack of money.
Helping Hand also offers laundry detergent and other hygiene products, along with supplies such as notebooks, folders and writing instruments. Eventually Helping Hand wants to add a career closet after it is moved to a larger space over the summer. This would provide needed business casual and professional clothes for students for job interviews or to start their careers. Donations of business casual and professional clothes will be accepted in all sizes.
Volunteers with housing staff are helping to staff Helping Hand this school year.
Students have to fill out a one-time form to use Helping Hand, although all information will be kept confidential. The data is required by the Feed My People Food Bank, who provides some of our food. The form can be found at tinyurl.com/UWSHH