YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) - Nestled in Youngstown State University's Kilcawley Center is a food pantry for university students, started by the YSU Student Government Association.
YSU Student Government President Rayann Atway and Vice President Ernie Barkett have been working to advance the YSU Food Pantry.
"Student Government identified a need to have a food pantry on campus. This is something a lot of other colleges have, and especially with one in four college students facing food insecurity, we wanted to create a welcoming environment for YSU students," Atway said.
The pantry opened in 2016 with limited space, but Atway and Barkett are working to grow it.
"Since then, we have been able to grow it and offer a greater variety of food, toiletry products, hygiene products, and we've been able to double our hours and have a more accessible location so we can serve our students," Atway said.
The pantry is open to any YSU student. With the swipe of their Campus ID card, they receive a few pre-packaged bags of food items.
The bags are prepared by members of YSU's Dietician Program, aiming to provide as much nutrition as possible.
Atway and Barkett are hoping to improve the offerings and make things a little fresher.
"We've actually partnered with the faculty union, OEA, and they have helped us secure a grant to get a new refrigerator so we can have new, fresh produce for students and have more than just dry canned goods," Barkett said.
Produce can be hard to come by, especially for students who live on campus and don't have the means to travel.
"That's a big issue here," Barkett said. "The nearest grocery store is all the way over off Belmont in Liberty. It's a Walmart, and even around here, getting fresh produce is extremely hard for some students."
Atway and Barkett said they expect the need for the pantry to grow in the coming years, citing the newly-constructed student apartment options.
According to a University newsletter from October, all university residence halls and the newly-constructed Unversity Edge Apartments are at capacity.