University of Louisiana system tackles student hunger

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MONROE, La. (KNOE) – The University of Louisiana system is committed to not going hungry to help them access grants available from the state to help them. The law was recently signed by the Governor to help students go hungry. Although most universities in the system, like ULM, Grambling, and Louisiana Tech currently have programs in place, including pantries.

Louisiana Tech executive director of communications Tonya Oaks Smith said they had the pantry before the COVID pandemic.

“We know that during COVID Especially, we have become aware of the challenges for our students, especially international students,” explained Oaks Smith. “We opened what we call the Good Nutrition Mission Pantry on the campus of Louisiana Tech.”

ULM and Grambling also have student pantries available on campus. They have also been working on other ways to make the process easier since the issue of student hunger was identified.

“To place the order form online, someone who placed the order would pick it up like you would if you placed a grocery order,” Oaks Smith said.

Meghan Olinger, director of ULM’s Office of Student Advocacy and Accountability, says the process is as simple as showing your ID.

“Show your campus-wide ID, you’ll take what you need and you can come back any day. There is no limit to the number of times you can visit the pantry,” Olinger said.

The ULM Student Government Association is working on a program to put unused meal swips into a pot. The program is called “Swipe Away Hunger”. They also want the community to know that they are committed to the students and their well-being.

“We are passionate about making sure students are successful and you can’t be successful if you’re hungry and we know this applies to K-12 students, but this also applies to students,” said Oaks Smith.

Taylor Costa of the Northeast Louisiana Food Bank said in a text that they had partnerships with ULM and Grambling to help stock their pantries. He’s not sure what impact this change will have on their inventory.

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