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Combating food insecurity at Lock Haven University

Combating food insecurity at Lock Haven University

LOCK HAVEN — Coinciding with October as Hunger Awareness Month, Lock Haven University recently celebrated the grand opening of the Haven Cupboard, located at the former Beth Yehuda Synagogue, 320 W. Church St., across from Lock Haven University’s East Campus Science Center.

According to Amy Downes, assistant director of the Center for Excellence and Inclusion, the project began a year ago, when student employees identified concerns about food insecurity on campus. Since then, those students, along with faculty and staff, worked to bring the Haven Cupboard to campus.

During the opening, the Haven Cupboard served 20 students and handed out 370 pounds of food, equaling about four meals per student. The program is for current Lock Haven University students taking at least one credit and students will be asked to show their campus ID when they come to the cupboard.

According to Downes, food insecurity is a hot topic among community and four-year colleges across the nation. Downes said there are three types of food insecurity — one is not having enough food to prevent physical feelings of hunger, another is having unreliable access to food on a consistent basis and another is not having access to healthy, nutritious food.

“(The last) is where images of students surviving on Ramen noodles and peanut butter crackers may come to mind,” she said.

Downes said the Haven Cupboard also will help students to be more successful overall during their time at the university. “We really want students to know that when you are a Lock Haven University student, you are a part of The Haven family. Family means that we take care of each other so the Haven Cupboard will fill in a need that many of our students may be struggling about in silence,” she added.

The long-term plans for the Haven Cupboard are to eventually expand from only providing non-perishable food items, to also being able to offer frozen and refrigerated items as well as hygiene and cleaning products.

“The Haven Cupboard is a student-driven initiative and it has been exciting to be able to support the students who work for the Center for Excellence and Inclusion, to make this program happen,” Downes said. “Our motto at CEI is ‘Everything we do, we do it with love.’ The Haven Cupboard was born from that place. It is my hope that students will see the Haven Cupboard as just another service that is provided to them to help them be as successful as possible.”

The Haven Cupboard is staffed by Downes and her student staff from 7 to 9 p.m. every Wednesday and non-perishable food items can be dropped off from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays. Other donation times can be made by emailing havencupboard@lockhaven.edu.

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