Even though school is out for the summer, a Denton food pantry, which helps hungry college students, is busy. Those who run the Shiloh Food Pantry on the University of North Texas campus say they’re filling what they see is a growing need.
Fra'dasia Daniels is a UNT psych major. She works, but payday is still two weeks away.
“Right now, I'm in this limbo of 'you will have money to get stuff, but not until two weeks from now,'” said Daniels, as she browsed through the food and toiletry selections of the pantry, run by Denton Wesley Foundation, a faith-based ministry. The pantry provides college students like Daniels with one bag of groceries per visit.
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“You would never think that college students are going without,” she said. “It's like, yay! It's a party, everybody's having fun. But we're also starving."
Those who run the pantry, which is located on the UNT campus but also serves students from Texas Woman’s University and North Central Texas College, say as many as three in five college students in Denton are food insecure. Translation: They're hungry, or close to it.
“The students are so grateful, so appreciative,” said Haley Feuerbacher, campus minister for Denton Wesley Foundation.
During the school year, the pantry gives a free bag of groceries to 500 students a month. For some, it's the difference between staying in school, or not.
“I do think there would be a lot of difficult choices,” said Feuerbacher. “As to whether or not they need to take a break from school or drop out of school just to make ends meet and put food on the table."
The cost of tuition, books, rent, they add up. Some recipients are also raising families, on top of their education.
Those who run the pantry say the need is growing.
“So this is not the greatest thing ever, because I need food to eat,” said Daniels.
A place like the pantry, run in conjunction with Argyle United Methodist Church volunteers, and stocked largely through donations, helps ease the burden.