In 2018, the HOPE Lab reported that 36% of four-year university students were food insecure at least once in the previous month. This has been associated with a shifting U.S. undergraduate population and the rise in associated costs of college. The consequences of hunger can manifest negatively through a student’s performance inside the classroom; it is also associated with student anxiety and depression. At Purdue, the primary resource for individuals experiencing food insecurity is the ACE Campus Food Pantry, which serves faculty, staff, undergraduate, and graduate students. A group of student leaders direct the pantry with advising from the Center for Civic Engagement and Leadership Development. This project was developed in consultation with ACE over the period of several years to address varied needs. On average, ACE serves more than 50 individuals a week and its client base has been growing with each semester. The increase in visitations in the past few years has put a strain on ACE’s limited supplies of fresh produce, which they expressly wished to address. Like many campus organizations, ACE also faces attrition of student volunteers and regularly shifting student leadership dynamics. A final area of expressed and immediate need is quantitative data on levels of campus food insecurity to advocate for institutional support. This reflective essay reviews the efforts and outcomes of a multifaceted approach to address this community partner’s varied needs. The essay reviews the literature on campus food insecurity and its relevance to Purdue University. A description of the structure of institutional support for those experiencing food insecurity at Purdue is provided, examining how it functioned prior to my service and how it has been reformed through these various efforts. Finally, the essay presents preliminary results of the first survey of food insecurity on the Purdue West Lafayette campus and identifies where there are opportunities for further growth in the landscape of food insecurity support at Purdue.



Included in

Food Security Commons