Bowie State University, an HBCU in Maryland, opened its new food pantry where students can shop for food for free. The food pantry and nutrition lounge was made possible through a new partnership with Capital Area Food Bank and Food Lion. The Food Lion Feeds program donated $10,000 to Maryland’s first HBCU to launch the pantry, according to WJLA. Students will be able to grab food items for free and Capital Area Food Bank will ensure that the pantry stays stocked. The university stated that many of its students only eat one meal per day, so having a food pantry with fresh produce will allow them to get a healthy alternative whenever they want one. The food pantry also includes a lounge with sofas and a television.
“When we talked about this concept with Food Lion we really wanted to attack the stigma and breakdown the stigma of people feeling like they didn’t want to come and get food because of the thought that there is something wrong with suffering from food insecurity,” Brent Swinton, Bowie State vice president for Institutional Advancement said in a statement sent to WJLA. “That’s a growing trend across the country and colleges are attacking that and Bowie State University is at the cutting edge. So we want people to feel welcome, to come in and realize that this is all about making sure nutrition is available so our students can achieve in the classroom.”
The stigma that college students mostly eat frozen pizza and ramen noodles stems from the fact that paying for food could be very costly. The average cost for an 8-month meal plan for an undergrad is roughly $4,500, although this number can vary greatly depending upon the school, according to edmit.me. An individual college-aged student will spend approximately $163–$367 monthly, according to a report. BSU started a great initiative and Swinton said this is just the beginning. He hopes to eventually stock the lounge with free toiletries for students, as well as food.