Food pantry at La Salle is “here to support our students”
Through the pandemic, The Basket has continued meeting the needs of Universitystudents.
When students walk into The Basket, the campus food pantry at La Salle University, they often have a similar reaction.
“They’re just glad to be there,” said Laura B. Frank, Ph.D., associate professor of nutrition and director of The Basket. “We greet them with ‘Welcome to The Basket!’ and they smile. They might look around and say things like, ‘I didn’t know you had this kind of selection.’ But almost all of them are in a state of disbelief that we have this resource here for them.”
The Basket is meeting the needs of hungry and food-insecure students at La Salle by providing access to fresh and packaged food at no out-of-pocket cost. It has remained open—albeit with limited hours of availability—throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
What’s more, food insecurity has been linked to declining academic performance. A study published this year in the journal Public Health Nutrition revealed that food-insecure college students were 43% less likely to graduate from college and 61% less likely to earn a graduate or professional degree. Food insecurity, the study showed, disproportionately affected first-generation students, as well.
“Food insecurity creates cumulative challenges,” Frank said. “It’s not just, ‘Do I have enough to eat?’ It challenges students to strike a difficult balance between work and academic commitments. It places them at greater risk of dropping out of college and suffering from mental health issues. Food insecurity has a real domino effect on every aspect of their lives.”
Enrollment in Philabundance’s Grocers Against Hunger program has enabled La Salle to partner with its local Fresh Grocer and help keep The Basket’s shelves and refrigerators stocked. The program pairs local grocery stores with food pantries looking to receive a store’s excess food supply that it cannot sell, often due to a product’s approaching expiration dates. The food rescue program has brought more than 10,000 pounds of food to La Salle, including produce, dairy, baked goods, frozen meat, and poultry. Philabundance also supplies The Basket with canned and packaged food at no charge.
The Basket maintains a Canvas page through the myLaSalle Portal, for those seeking weekly updates on hours of availability or resource availability. Those looking to volunteer regularly or donate food items should contact The Basket’s director Laura B. Frank, Ph.D., email@example.com.
September is Hunger Action Month, an appropriate time to remind the La Salle community of The Basket’s year-round availability, Frank said. The Basket maintains two locations—on the lower level of St. Benilde Tower, on West Campus, and College Hall, on Main Campus. Weekly, The Basket serves close to 30 students. That’s a more than 60% decrease from the student population the pantry served even as recently as March 2020.
“Every student is welcome at The Basket,” Frank said. “We’re here to support our students and they are always so happy that we’re here for them.”