By Sophia Wu
These days, college students face immense pressure to succeed in life. But what happens when they are barely able to fulfill basic needs, such as eating? Food insecurity is a pressing issue in D.C., with many struggling to acquire food or facing other food-related limitations. College students are no exception. According to an October 2016 report by Students Against Hunger, 22% of college students face food insecurity.
George Washington University tackles this issue with their recent opening of the Store, a student-run food pantry that is extensively involved with the D.C. community. The goal of the Store is to provide access to food for hungry students free of charge. Students, families, and alumni donate food, as well as Whole Foods, Bread for the City, and Capital Area Food Bank. The Store is also a part of a crop share on campus that provides produce one time each week.
Lydia Johnson is the Store Logistics Manager and current student studying Human Services and Social Justice at GW. She firmly believes that healthy eating is a core part of the Store’s mission. From her experience working at the Store, Johnson says, “We encourage healthy eating for our students by providing as much fresh produce, breads, meats and healthy food options to choose from. When possible, we stay away from chips, sodas, and other snack items associated with poor eating habits.”
When browsing the Store, it is evident that GW cares about healthiness. There is a fridge full of lettuce heads and other fruits and vegetables stocked to the brim. There are also whole wheat pastas, black beans, and vegetable-based soups. Patrick Lersh, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, enjoys the convenience of the Store. “I’m an athlete, and many of us tend to skip meals, so it’s a good way to supplement,” he says. According to Johnson, the Store receives nearly 2,000 pounds of food or more that lasts around two weeks. “From the feedback we have received from students, a majority of everything we have heard has been very positive. They seem to enjoy the variety of options that we have along with the cleanliness and overall accessibility and free-choice options of the space,” Johnson adds.
The Store, District House B121, 2121 H Street NW, Washington, D.C., 20052, Saturday-Sunday, 6am-12pm and 2pm-2am, 202-994-6555 (Center for Student Engagement), firstname.lastname@example.org, https://students.gwu.edu/store