Starting the OSU Emergency Food Pantry
Sarah Cunningham came to OSU to work on a PhD in Applied Anthropology in Fall 2007. She brought with her interests in food, poverty, and emerging adulthood. With the encouragement of faculty, she began looking at the intersection of these topics. She found that although there are many programmatic and policy efforts to bolster the food security of children and adolescents, there were few such efforts geared toward emerging adults. With a four-year college degree as an increasingly valued means of upward social and economic mobility, many colleges and universities were actively recruiting and trying to support first generation college students, especially those from low-income households. But too often, that support did not deal with a fundamental need faced by low-income people of any age, food insecurity.
Once again with the encouragement of Anthropology faculty, Cunningham began researching what it would take to open a food pantry on the OSU campus. Soon thereafter she recruited Dana Johnson, an Anthropology undergraduate student, to partner with her in opening and operating a campus pantry. In Spring 2009 their efforts finally paid off and the OSU Emergency Food Pantry opened. Since then the pantry has found a permanent institutional home with the OSU Human Services Resource Center, enabling it to grow and expand in its mission, providing food and raising awareness about the previously underserved population of low-income college students.
Photo: Sarah Cunningham (right) and Dana Johnson sort food to be distributed to area food pantries at the regional food bank, Linn Benton Food Share.