ORLANDO, Fla. — During the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Central Florida opened an on-campus food pantry to help students struggling to eat.
Now, workers at the pantry say they’re helping in record numbers because of rising inflation.
Lincy Antoine says she relied on the food pantry as a freshman. Antoine says she was so impressed with their services, she became a volunteer herself.
“It’s just an amazing resource,” Antoine said.
Pantry visits jumped to more than 3,500 last month, the highest levels in two years, before the start of the pandemic.
It’s a reflection of food insecurity issues facing campuses all across the country.
In a recent survey of students in two and four year programs, more than half said they struggled to buy food.
“Some of them are food poor, some of them even sleep in their cars,’ Enid Harris of Mercy Center Ministries, Inc. said. “We just have to help any way we can.”
In response to the increased need, Knights Helping Knights Pantry has started packing emergency bags to be distributed at UCF”s 24-hour All-Knight Study, so students can access food assistance even when the pantry is closed.
They’re also creating a new mobile distribution site, and are planning to add pantry spaces at two of UCF’s regional campuses.
The pantry relies primarily on volunteers and donations, so they’re asking the community for help.
“We want to help as many students as possible,” Knights Pantry Assistant Manager Nicholas Aixala said. “So definitely, we want to spread the word that the pantry’s here and ready to help.
For more information on how to contribute, click here.
©2022 Cox Media Group