Georgia college launches program to keep students from going hungry

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Getting through college can be expensive for some students, causing them to stretch their dollars just to make ends meet.  And when the money is gone, getting something to eat is next to impossible.

Rice, beans, and the all time college favorite Ramen Noodles typically tops the college student’s grocery list.  A buggy full of these items and more could cost them a pretty penny, something you can’t afford when college expenses get in the way.

“The meal plan wasn’t all that helpful. It only gave me $250 for the whole semester and I couldn’t make that work for me,” said Jalen Pope.

He is trying to be more independent as he climbs through his junior year at Augusta University. And despite being on the meal plan, he’s had to rely on family.

“When I ran out I just made do with noodles,” he recalled.

What Pope doesn’t know is there are oodles and oodles of noodles and more than some right in the middle of the Summerville Campus at Bellvue Hall. Jaguar nation launched its new Open Paws Food Pantry.

“I once talked to a medical student who lived off $60 a month for food,” explained Gina Thurman, Associate Dean of Student Life. “That’s when it hit me because you don’t really think of medical students as being needy. With all of the loans and things that they have, he had very little resources left over for food.”

Any student matriculated at Augusta University, on both campuses, can shop the pantry like it’s a regular grocery store buck free. It’s all non-perishable, mostly beans and rice, donated so students can have a bite to eat.

Javier Capreles graduates next week, but he was clueless about the pantry.

“I didn’t even know.”

Neither did Gustav Anderson, who also graduates next week.

“We don’t have meal plans but we run out of money all the time every month.”

Some students are just learning about the pantry and the fact that some of their peers may be hungry.

Senior Marie Vin told us things like books do cost, but she puts herself first.

“We just buy our own groceries. Food comes first over books. It’s tough, especially at the end of the semester,” she said.

A quick price check online of food at Walmart will run students around $35 without items such as milk, cheese and meat.

“We do have a lot of students who are non-traditional that have children so they’re struggling to feed their families,” Thurman added.

To learn more about the Open Paws Food Pantry, click here.

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