Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Perspective: I use GW’s food pantry. Here’s what you need to know

GW can and should help students who struggle with food insecurity through The Store.

Like many other GW students, I struggle with food insecurity, and finding and paying for food has been one of the most stressful parts of my college experience. I worry about the most cost-effective way to eat on campus every day, balancing between meal swipes and cooking in my residence hall.

This is where The Store, GW’s student-run food pantry, comes into play. While the generous volunteers who run The Store are doing the best they can to help fight student food insecurity, I can’t depend on it. In my experience, The Store is underfunded, inconsistently stocked and does not provide ample nutritious options inclusive of all diets.

I rely on meal swipes and GWorld to eat throughout the academic year, trying to spend as little of my own money as possible to save money for student loan payments, flights home and emergencies. GW’s meal plans make dining on campus highly complicated, inconvenient and disappointing. I don’t always have time to wait in line or go to one of the dining halls, I can’t find the nutritious options I’d like to eat, and there’s a lot of pressure to budget my dining dollars and meal swipes. The Store could mitigate the challenges GW’s dining plan poses.

I first signed up for The Store last year after hearing about it through orientation emails. The Store provides perishable and nonperishable food items, school supplies, personal hygiene products and interview attire. But in my trips to The Store this semester, including last Tuesday, I’ve noticed that hygiene products or school supplies like notebooks and pens haven’t been available this academic year — the bins designated for these items were empty.

And when it comes to food, the only items I saw available during the week were beans, tuna, cereal, peanut butter, biscuit mix and loads of apple sauce. That is not enough to make varied, nutritious meals, especially for students with dietary restrictions. When The Store is restocked with more nutritious and/or perishable items like meats, milk, eggs or bread, other students in need quickly take them.

Nutritious options are in high demand at The Store, and the student volunteers who run The Store do what they can with limited donations and funding. Still, The Store lacks the supplies needed to reach every student in need. Students write food requests on one of the whiteboards in the pantry, asking for chicken, eggs, butter, milk, vegetables, bread and other items, but their requests often go unfulfilled.

I stop by The Store at least once a week. When I cannot find the food I need, I have to carefully budget $40 of GWorld between the Georgetown Safeway or District House Market. Due to D.C.’s high cost of living, buying groceries from Safeway and the Market doesn’t get me much. If The Store could complement my Safeway groceries, I could still buy fruit during the weeks I would normally forgo it for toilet paper, shampoo or other essentials.

When my GWorld money and meal swipes run out, I will have to spend money I saved for plane tickets home, student loan payments and emergencies to buy food. While not ideal, I am fortunate enough to have the money to spend on food when necessary. For students who don’t have that option, skipping meals may be their only choice.

As the saying goes, “beggars can’t be choosers.” But that should never apply to students facing food insecurity, especially when GW boasts a $2.5 billion endowment — even just a small fraction of that could make a huge difference for students who rely on The Store. Instead of opening up another for-profit dining option, GW can and should better fund The Store.

It’s not too much to ask for a little help lessening my food insecurity. I just want enough, so the price of food is not on my mind every day. If The Store is supposed to be a resource to students, it needs to effectively benefit everyone who needs it.

To be clear, this is not a critique of the volunteers and donors who are doing the best they can to run The Store with limited resources. But it is a call to the University: Food insecurity still exists on campus, and GW has the funds and ability to do something about it.

The Store cannot meet the needs of students relying solely on donations. It needs funding from the University to consistently stock its shelves with the nutritious food options students need. My peers and I should be focused on completing our education, not finding where our next meal will come from.

Hannah Burch, a sophomore majoring in political science and communication, is an opinions writer.

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