Campus resource continues to receive donations from students and staff
By jackson hare, Staff writer
Tucked away across Dana Avenue in the Xavier Village Apartments, The Store strives to subdue food insecurity among college students by providing a campus food bank run entirely from donations and volunteer staff.
In 2016, a survey was issued by students to undergraduates living on- and off-campus to gauge the prevalence of food insecurity. Out of the 898 students who responded to the survey, 23.6% of students displayed signs of food insecurity. In May 2017, the university established The Store.
Emma Cesar is a basic needs graduate assistant at the Care Management Office and a manager at The Store.
About one in four college students are affected by food insecurity, which means we are not serving a quarter of the Xavier student body,” Cesar noted.
To counteract this statistic, The Store was established to provide a convenient source of free essential items.
The items available extend from non-perishable foods, such as frozen foods and canned fruits and vegetables to hygiene products and school supplies.
The Store operates with the help of student and staff volunteers, and many of the donations come from the Xavier community, especially from professors and staff members.
Cesar also discussed her own experiences and how they inspired her to be a part of the organization.
“I really empathize with students who come to the food bank with their own baggage or may not be in the best place, and I hope to be a smiling face for them,” Cesar said.
However, The Store faces a hefty challenge: the stigma associated with going to a food bank or even asking for help. Cesar suspects there is a sense of shame in going to The Store, which is a challenging attitude to resolve. She expressed that she hopes to totally eliminate the stigma behind it.
“The Store is a resource just like financial aid, counseling and tutoring. We’re just another resource here on campus to help you be a more successful student,” she added.
Though The Store is fully stocked, many items remain on the shelves as a result of the lack of student visits. This surplus also makes it difficult for The Store to receive more donations.
Cesar hopes to partner with campus groups, organizations and others that want to get involved to mitigate the stigma surrounding the food bank by raising awareness around the issue.
“I want to (be able to) say ‘yes’ to some of our larger donations because more students are coming in and taking advantage of what we have to offer,” Cesar said.
Understanding that it can feel awkward or scary to visit The Store alone, Cesar suggests students grab their friends or text their dorm hall floor GroupMe and invite people to join them, even just to see what this resource has available. She also invites students to participate in any of the various opportunities to contribute to The Store’s mission.
The Store is open to all students every Friday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.