UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s First Lady Frances Wolf visited Penn State’s Lion’s Pantry on Nov. 14. Wolf was given a tour of the main Lion’s Pantry facility by members of the organization’s executive board and learned about all that the pantry offers to Penn State students.
Tucked away in the northeast corner of campus, Lion’s Pantry is a student-run food pantry that serves students battling food insecurity. The pantry is open to all Penn State students with a valid Penn State identification card. A 2018 U.S. Government Accountability Office report found that one in three college students do not have enough to eat, which creates a significant barrier to success for many students. The Lion’s Pantry was founded to combat this issue.
Following the tour, Wolf facilitated a roundtable discussion with members of Lion’s Pantry and other student leaders, which sparked a dialogue on food insecurity issues on college campuses statewide and the barriers food insecurity creates for students seeking higher education. Students who have struggled with basic needs insecurity and student leaders from various organizations were able to tell personal stories about experiences with food insecurity as well as pitch ideas for the Wolf Administration’s plan to combat the issue.
“Higher education should not be an exclusive privilege for those with disposable income,” Wolf said.
The first lady, along with Gov. Tom Wolf and his cabinet, are seeking to find tangible solutions to the food insecurity epidemic, including raising the state’s minimum wage.
“We know that over 30 percent of college students go hungry because they can’t afford proper nutrition,” Wolf said. “We also know that many of these students carry jobs in addition to their studies. Raising the commonwealth’s minimum wage would help these struggling students meet their basic needs so they can succeed in school and get the skills they need to attain jobs after graduation.”
Lion Pantry President Sayre Bradley agreed that raising the minimum wage could alleviate part of this issue.
“This is a great opportunity for students to share their experiences and involvement while discussing what can be done at an institutional, state and federal level to support college students facing food insecurity. Addressing the minimum wage is a great step towards making sure that no student is hungry,” Bradley said.
Wolf’s visit followed the visit of Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller in September. Miller’s visit was a part of National Hunger Action Month, which brings attention to chronic hunger and food insecurity issues.
The Lion’s Pantry main location is open 2-6 p.m. Sundays and Fridays and 3-6 p.m. on Tuesdays. It is located on Services Road, past East Halls and the Lewis Katz Building, in between Lion Surplus and the O. Richard Bundy Blue Band Building. Students can get to the pantry by using the campus shuttle. Multiple Cub Pantries are also located in offices throughout campus for convenient access to some necessities. In addition, the Lion’s Pantry offers a food order program with delivery on Fridays to St. Paul’s Methodist Church downtown. To learn more about Lion’s Pantry or to get involved, visit www.thelionspantry.psu.edu.