On April 28, the College of Applied and Natural Sciences reopened Louisiana Tech University Good nutrition Mission Food Pantry located at Carson Taylor Hall.

Food insecurity is a growing challenge in colleges across America, according to the Association of American Colleges and Universities. To address this lingering problem, the School of Human Ecology established the Good Nutrition Mission’s Food Pantry so students have access to essential items such as dairy, canned and personal care products.

Students and faculty attended the ribbon cutting ceremony held to commemorate the new additions to the room, which included shelves from the Student Government Association of Louisiana Tech and a refrigerator from Dairy MAX.

Dr. Catherine Fontenot, director of the pantry and assistant professor of human ecology, started this program in 2017 from the unspoken need of students suffering from food insecurity on campus.

“We know that diet is part of being able to lead a healthy lifestyle and is therefore critical to student success,” said Fontenot. “Research has shown that well-nourished students can concentrate better and therefore perform better on exams.”

The Pantry is also celebrating a new approach to bringing the Louisiana Tech undergraduate through a new online ordering system. Throughout the summer of 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Good Nutrition Mission’s Food Pantry supplied over 200 Louisiana Tech students with this new system.

Kara Hodges, a senior citizen in nutrition and dietetics, said the pantry was a necessary resource for college students to have available.

“As a student, we have so much to do between work and class,” said Hodges. “This resource is a great way to give back to students who are working hard for themselves, their futures, and even their families.”

new refrigerator from Dairy MAXBefore reopening, the pantry supplied the Louisiana Tech students with canned goods and other non-perishable items. With the new refrigerators from Dairy MAX and donations from the Lagniappe Ladies, the pantry can deliver dairy products like yogurt, milk and cheese. Other organizations, such as the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, have made donations for staples such as rice.

Dairy MAX representatives Candace Bell and Jenn Duhon said college students often do not include dairy products in their daily diet.

“About 30 to 40 percent of college students say they are not getting enough to eat, and that leads to food insecurity,” Bell said. “We need to make sure that we not only feed the students, but also provide them with nutritious meals, which include dairy products.”

Duhon said dairy is one of the most requested items in food pantries, but one of the least donated of any food group.

“Dairy products are affordable, but high-quality protein,” Duhon said. “Proteins, especially dairy products, help anyone who feels hungry get through class and to their next meal.”

Thanks to the Good Nutrition Mission, Food Pantry is new Online ordering systemStudents can choose their groceries for the week for free. Students can go online, enter their names and campus-wide ID, and pick up selected items. Once their order is ready, a student assistant sends an email to the student and the student can retrieve their order.

“The online ordering system is a new and exciting way to look after our students while complying with the COVID guidelines that were introduced this summer,” said Fontenot. “I think students like the chance to come in or place an order for pickup!”

Faculty, staff, and fellow students don’t always know the difficulties they may face, be it job loss, a devastating house fire, or the battle between paychecks. The Good Nutrition Mission Food Pantry offers high school students a chance to get away from the stress of finding their next meal between paychecks, or to care for their family while attending college.

“Students can be safe one day and not the other,” said Fontenot. “This is what our pantry is for, to help students through difficult times and to make their campus experience a little bit easier.”