PULLMAN, Wash. – The end of the school year is always a busy time at Washington State University’s TRIO food pantry as some students have run out of food money and desperately need something to eat.
Thanks to many generous supporters, including a Cougar mom and her daughter, the pantry is a reliable place for food insecure students to receive help year round.
276 lbs. donated Mom’s Weekend
During WSU’s recent Mom’s Weekend, visiting families restocked the pantry with over 276 pounds of food and hygiene products. Some made cash donations.
The food drive was spearheaded by Cougar mom Jody Coppedge-Pope from Lakewood, Wash. Just prior to WSU’s Mom’s Weekend she made a plea on three Facebook sites, including one devoted to parents of WSU students, for families to donate food to the pantry. She also posted a flyer in the staff room of the elementary school where she works. With the help of her daughter Carina, Coppedge-Pope collected much of food before leaving home, while some families transported it to Pullman themselves.
“I became aware through Carina that it isn’t uncommon for students to run out of RDA (dining) money and do in fact go hungry from time to time,” she said. “I’ve donated to the food pantry several times over the last four years because it bothered me how great the need is among students.”
Parent and community donations
The food pantry, located in Lighty Student Services Building 260, was established 15 years ago by the Student Support Services (SSS) Program and receives donations throughout the year from parents and the WSU community. It’s now managed by the Office for Access, Equity and Achievement, which oversees several federally funded TRIO programs like SSS. Since staff began keeping records in 2013, well over 350 students have visited the pantry, which serves all students.
Food insecurity on the rise
Staff at the TRIO food pantry, as well as another one operated by the WSU Women’s Resource Center, say food insecurity among students seems to be rising. A task force has been formed within the Division of Student Affairs, which is currently surveying undergraduate and graduate/professional students to help measure the extent of food insecurity on campus and how it might be impacting academic performance. (See related article on WSU News.)
In an effort to provide the WSU community with another resource, The Division of Student Affairs launched a program called Cougs Feeding Cougs in January. The program established a fund, supported by donors, that food insecure students can access anonymously online. Since the program’s inception, over 300 different students have received assistance, some of them multiple times.
Support planned after graduation
Even though Carina is graduating this month, she and her mom plan to continue supporting the TRIO food pantry in the years to come.
“I feel the food pantry is a very important service and it should be continued as long a WSU is around,” said Coppedge-Pope. “This is something Carina and I will always champion for WSU and the students of WSU.”