Bemidji State University Starts New Initiative To Address Student Hunger
Bemidji State University has found a simple way to address hunger on campus.
“Faculty and staff and students are very, very excited about this and are contributing, and we are thrilled,” says Dr. Debbie Guelda, who helped start the program as director of the Center for Professional Development at BSU.
The pop-up food shelves have been placed around campus. Anyone can contribute, and then students can take out whatever it is they need. It’s addressing a problem that many people may not know exists.
“The literature is pretty straightforward in that nationwide, the number of students that feel insecure about their next meal is anywhere between 20% and 60%. That’s an outstanding number and it horrified me,” says Guelda.
“The success of students hinges greatly on whether or not they can function, and that requires feeling nourished,” says graduate student Jordan Lutz.
The boxes work best because they’re discreet, so there’s no need for students to feel embarrassed.
Guelda says, “The idea of going to a food shelf holds a certain social stigma, so these pop-up food shelves work beautifully. They’re just these little boxes tucked around and students can discreetly help themselves to something that they might need.”
There are currently 12 pop-up food shelves on campus, but BSU plans to put them in every building. In the future, they may add other food items to the list.
“Personally, I would like to see work in collaboration with our food service provider on campus in hopes of potentially providing opportunities for getting meal kits into the hands of students as well,” says Lutz.
“As we step into the future, I would love to see a pop-up food shelf everywhere throughout campus and even the community of Bemidji. There’s no reason for anyone to go hungry on our community,” says Guelda.
The community is welcome to contribute non-perishable items to the food shelves.