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Washburn University opens pantry doors to needy students

A new student service that has been gaining momentum in recent months is university-run food pantries. These pantries are designed to offer reprieve for struggling students in need of a meal, and Topeka, Kansas’ Washburn University is the latest to join the trend.

The university officially opened the doors to its stocked pantry, The Exchange, following a grand opening on campus this week. The space provided for The Exchange pantry was donated by the Washburn psychology department.

As reported by The Topeka Capital-Journal students and faculty members alike can access the food items as they are available, provided they show their valid Washburn University ID card. Donations to the pantry, meanwhile, will be given on a confidential basis.

University officials close to the project conducted a survey during the fall 2013 semester, finding that 45% of respondents cut the size of their meals or skipped a meal completely because they didn’t have enough money.

The Exchange is the first part of a student-driven hunger alleviation and nutrition education initiative called Bods Feeding Bods that was launched in August.

The unfortunate challenge with university food pantries is that many students in need feel ashamed or embarrassed to seek the extra help. Washburn hopes to alleviate that pressure and plans to keep the pantry doors open from 3 to 6 p.m. on Mondays and 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Thursdays.

The Exchange will operate these two days each week and will be staffed by volunteers from the campus community. Those interested in the pantry’s services can receive food twice each month so long as they have an active Washburn ID card. Food distribution will be based on family size.

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