Sooners Creating Solutions
The first time University of Oklahoma junior Matthew Marks heard about hunger on college campuses, he knew he had to do something. Marks, along with a group of OU students, spear-headed the first-of-its-kind collaborative effort on campus to open the OU Food Pantry.
Food insecurity has proven to be a quiet and lesser-known issue, yet an increasingly common trend on college campuses across the country. With the recent opening of the OU Food Pantry, the OU community wants to make the message come across loud and clear to those in need: help is here.
“The last stat I saw was that about 40 percent of students qualify for food stamps on campus, “ Marks, Director of the OU Food Pantry, said. “It’s a trend around our nation that with textbook prices going up along with everything else, students just don’t have enough money for food. So I definitely want to help with that problem.”
Marks and a team of students, spanning engineering to journalism to nutrition majors, are the ones responsible for planning, organizing, and promoting the OU Food Pantry. From organizing shelves and food items to pairing nutritious and complete meal options, students are using their skills and knowledge from the classroom and beyond to make the Pantry a reality.
“It’s really cool because we have a bunch of students from different major groups, and they’re all contributing things that we’ve learned in class or other campus projects to figure this out,” Katie Dail, OU senior and Pantry Operations Manager, explained. “We have different ages from seniors all the way to freshmen who will carry this through for the next four years.”
Thanks to their efforts and the collaboration of multiple department across campus, OU joins hundreds of college campuses working to provide meal solutions for students, faculty and staff on campus in need.
“We want to end this food insecurity problem on our campus, “Marks said. “I don’t want another student to have to decide between buying a book or buying food for the weekend. That’s the purpose of this pantry.”
Student Government Association President J.D. Baker, said the goal of the Pantry is to eliminate food insecurities and provide educational resources to members of the OU community.
“It’s something to worry about when I think, ‘OK, I’m going to buy my books, pay my bills, but what am I going to eat?’,” Baker says. “And that is something that none of us here should have to worry about – especially for our students who have families to provide for.”
The OU Food Pantry is open Wednesdays and Thursdays every other week from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Students, faculty and staff are eligible to shop the pantry and may register online.
“I want every person on this campus to hear that we are here for you,” Marks said. “Your community has your back. We’re here to support you.”
Pantry-goers can also make shopping selections online, a unique and convenient function of OU’s Food Pantry. Online access, the registration form and volunteer information can be found at www.ou.edu/foodpantry.
To read more about how Sooners are making a difference, click here.