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Hungry for Learning: McMicken Food Bank Feeds Growing Need

When students reported food insecurity, McMicken College of Arts & Sciences faculty and staff mobilized to form an on-campus college pantry to provide students with access to emergency food supplies.

Date: 3/2/2016
By: Elissa Yancey
Phone: (513) 556-4350
Photos By: Creative Commons
Last fall, McMicken academic advisers faced a new challenge from a growing number of students. While they could help their advisees pick all the right classes, they couldn’t help them get what they needed most: food.

Several students told advisers they hadn’t eaten for days; and advisers knew that hungry students have a harder time concentrating and doing well in classes. “We developed a plan to help students right away,” said Lisa Holstrom, senior assistant dean in the University of Cincinnati McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.


Holstrom helped lead the charge to fill a closet in French Hall with donations of food for students in need. McMicken Dean Ken Petren was quick to do his part by bringing in carloads of donations.

Although UC partners with the local St. George Interfaith Food Pantry and other organizations, the on-campus college pantry provides support for students who need food immediately. 

“We know a lot of our students hold down multiple jobs and support families,” Petren said. “This food bank acts as a bridge to keep students connected to their studies even when they are running low on funds for food.”

UC is far from alone in dealing with student hunger. According to national surveys, nearly one in five undergraduates experience food insecurity—they won’t have enough nutrition to live healthy lives—at some point during college.

Between 2010 and 2014, the number of college campuses that have started food banks has increased by more than 300 percent, according to the College and University Food Bank Alliance, a non-profit created to help schools help their students. 

Michigan State, Oregon State and University of Missouri, along with eight California State University schools and nine California campuses all operate food pantries, and just a few of more than 240 members of CUFBA.

Members of the UC community have already donated a supply of canned food, non-perishables and even grocery-store gift cards. The UC Veterans Programs and Services has also gathered donations for the pantry.

To donate to or request assistance from the pantry, please visit the welcome desk on the second floor of French Hall.