By Meredith Howard | Staff Writer
The Store, a food pantry on Baylor’s campus offering students access to a variety of food and hygiene items, serves as a resource for students experiencing food insecurity and seeks to normalize reaching out for support during the school year.
The Store is located in Sid Richardson Building room 47, which is in the lower level of the building’s east wing. It is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and offers items like canned goods, cereal, milk and frozen meals, as well as hygiene products. For access, students only need to swipe their Baylor ID in the card reader at the door, fill out a brief form and select their food items.
“The mission of The Store is to provide food resources for students that have a need, and we really allow students to define what that need is,” Michelle Cohenour, director of Student Success Initiatives, said.
Cohenour said that The Store receives about 200 visits per week, and that guidelines are posted in the pantry informing students on how many items they can take.
Students have access to The Store twice a month, and other guidelines on choosing items vary based on category.
“That’s really just to help us try to maintain the flow of items so that we make sure we have enough for every student,” Cohenour said. “We just did a new survey this fall called New2BU and we found that 10%+ of our new students were saying, ‘I need some additional food resources in order to bring my best self to the classroom.'”
Cohenour said that another goal of The Store is to normalize receiving food support.
“When we talk about food access and food resources for students, we try to do that in the same way that we would talk about academic advising or tutoring,” Cohenour said.
Cara Allen, a graduate research fellow with Texas Hunger Initiative, also said that she wanted to normalize needing to seek help due to food insecurity.
“What I’d like students at Baylor to know is that they are not alone if they are struggling to afford food. What might feel like an isolated experience is unfortunately more common than one might think because of expenses such as costs of living, tuition or a lack of family financial support,” Allen said.
Allen said that Baylor students are not immune to the struggles that can come with food insecurity.
“Like students across all college campuses, students at Baylor struggle to afford three nutritious meals a day. This can look like eating ramen for every meal, not because a student wants to, but is forced to because of financial strain,” Allen said.
Allen also said that food insecurity can look different depending on each student’s situation.
“Food insecurity can mean skipping meals throughout the week because one cannot afford groceries, skipping eating on the weekends because a meal plan does not cover it or eating less than students wish they could because they cannot afford to buy more,” Allen said.
In addition to The Store, students can also access The Fridge, a series of mini fridges on campus that provide snacks for students. There are currently eight locations on the Baylor campus in Waco and two in Dallas’ Louise Herrington School of Nursing.
More information about food insecurity’s effect on Baylor and around the world is available on the Baylor website.