GFU Affected by Hunger
Reported by Jen Wright
In a recent study at George Fox University (GFU), 19 percent of students reported experiencing hardships in having enough to eat. 13 percent said they did not have access to an adequate amount of food due to lack of resources, and 64 percent reported having a friend that did not have access to an adequate amount of food.
Jere Witherspoon, executive assistant to the Vice President for Student Life and dean of students, has worked in Student Life for 14 years and wanted to do something about the food insecurity students were experiencing on campus.
After a student commuter came into her office asking for help with getting resources for food, Witherspoon started looking up statistics and studies on food insecurity for college students.
“It may be just for a short time, but where do they go to get the resources to fill that need, for the end of the month, or maybe it might be the beginning of the month before they receive the money for their loan,” Witherspoon said.
Witherspoon started thinking about what they could do to combat the issue, and got the rest of Student Life, other faculty and even students involved in a solution.
Witherspoon started with a table with various pre-packaged foods in the Student Life Office on the third floor of the Stevens Center, and found out that the Intercultural Resource Center and Spiritual Life Center were already hosting tables.
GFU has also started an initiative for food preparation classes for students struggling to make affordable meals, in an effort to provide better food education.
Witherspoon worked with Student Life and the GFU community to start the Bruin Community Pantry, a collection of four resources to fight food insecurity on campus.
The pantry, which is open to all GFU community members, is supported and stocked by donations and from students, faculty, Newberg residents and businesses, including the Newberg Grocery Outlet and Bon Appetit.
A food pantry is located in Roberts Center 101 and will be stocked with non-perishables through food drives. Hospitality tables are located in the Student Life Office, Spiritual Life Office and the Intercultural Life Center. The tables have a variety of pre-packaged and fresh foods, including fruits.
The Student Life Office is working with Bon Appetit to provide quality leftover food, to be kept in a refrigerator in the Student Life Office, and Spiritual Life is partnering with Nutrition Matters to provide cooking classes to students.
After a failed fundraiser on Serve Day, Witherspoon realized they weren’t ready to expect big results yet, but that this is just the beginning.
“I think the most amazing thing is that God is setting a foundation,” Witherspoon said. “I’ve just seen so many kids, students that have been hungry here. That’s the worst thing you have to worry about, is ‘where is my next meal gonna come from’ or ‘if I could just get some of this then I could spend my money doing other things.’”
Witherspoon sees the community pantry as another aspect of GFU’s “Be Known” promise.
“I think it’s just helping us fulfill another level of our “Be Known promise to a basic need; food,” Witherspoon said.
Witherspoon hopes more students will get involved with the pantry, whether they need support or not.
“I think that’s the essence of what we want to do here,” Witherspoon said. “To let students have an experience of community that is rare.”
More information about the Bruin Community Pantry can be found on the GFU website, at the Student Life Center or on the posters and flyers around campus.