With many Ohio State college students unable to work because of the COVID-19 pandemic and others residing off campus for the primary time, the danger of meals insecurity has maybe by no means been increased.
The Buckeye Meals Alliance is working to assist college students achieve entry to diet to make sure they don’t sacrifice their well being to pay their payments. Regardless of unexpected limitations and adjustments, Nick Fowler, Buckeye Meals Alliance coordinator, stated the group is on observe to achieve 6,000 visits by the tip of the college yr — greater than double the earlier yr’s complete.
“Typically college students say that, ‘Oh, I’ve bought meals, however I’m having hassle paying my utilities or I would like to purchase books,’” Fowler stated. “We don’t need college students to must make that alternative.”
The nonprofit pupil group was based in 2016 to make sure that Ohio State college students have entry to reasonably priced, wholesome meals, in line with its web site. Working out of Suite 150 of Lincoln Tower and the basement of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, the group sometimes gives college students the chance to stroll in and select quite a lot of wholesome meals from their pantry on a weekly foundation.
Nevertheless, firstly of the pandemic the group discovered itself needing to regulate — each to a larger inflow of scholars coming in and the elevated must hold its volunteers protected, Fowler stated.
“We positively noticed a rise in March or April of scholars coming in, and I believe it was positively attributable to COVID,” Sam Musgrove, president of Buckeye Meals Alliance and a fourth-year in enterprise administration, stated.
To maintain the employees protected, Fowler stated the group restricted the variety of volunteers per shift and quickly stopped serving folks at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, which is on the intersection of North Excessive Road and East Woodruff Avenue. As an alternative of functioning as a walk-in pantry, Fowler stated the group created an on-line ordering type. College students select what meals and provides they want and specify a pickup time to restrict in-person contact.
“[Online ordering] was one thing that was at all times within the works,” Fowler stated. “However the pandemic put the stress on to get that discovered just a little extra rapidly.”
The doubled variety of visits could have been influenced by the pandemic, Fowler and Musgrove stated.
“For the primary time, I’ve had college students are available and say, ‘Unemployment sucks.’ I’ve had anyone point out, ‘I wouldn’t sometimes be right here, however I do know this Friday is my final paycheck,’ as a result of they work within the service business,” Fowler stated. “It’s exhausting to disregard that lots of our college students work within the service business and see what number of of these jobs have disappeared on and round campus.”
Fowler stated companies and organizations corresponding to Kroger, the Mid-Ohio Meals Collective and UNITY Fridge present meals and provides, enabling the group to reply to the sudden improve in demand. With these collaborations and a rise in donations, he stated the group has persistently offered groceries to the rising variety of college students.
Fowler stated college students don’t want proof of monetary burden — solely a legitimate BuckID. He stated that is intentional and permits the pantry to serve all college students, whether or not they use it as their most important supply of groceries or in the event that they want a fast snack between lessons.
“Our purpose is to actually make meals accessible to everybody on our campus no matter the place they fall on that meals insecurity spectrum as a result of meals wants are simply so totally different from individual to individual,” Fowler stated.
The Buckeye Meals Alliance pantry is positioned in Lincoln Tower and is open to these with a legitimate BuckID Monday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday from 4-8 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to three p.m.
College students can place orders on its on-line ordering type. For walk-in ordering, name 614-688-2508 to be let into the pantry. Extra info may be discovered on the group’s web site.