Howard recently unveiled a new food pantry to combat food insecurity on campus and promises that it will serve as a resource to the student body. The food pantry is now open and can be utilized by Howard students.
The pantry, currently called The Store @ HU, is located on the first floor of Blackburn University Center and operates on a scheduled appointment basis. It is stocked with essential items such as food, non-perishables, hygiene products, and school supplies and it is supported by donations from alumni, faculty and staff, and the Office of the Vice President.
Operating hours are on Mondays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesdays 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to an Instagram post made by HUSA.
Howard’s campus will soon have its second food pantry, with the first one situated in College Hall South. The new addition in Blackburn addresses the rising demand for access to resources.
“Food insecurity is a global issue. It’s not just a Howard issue, it’s international,” Dr. Kelechi Fluitt, the executive director of student outreach and engagement, said. “The scarcity of food or the fact people go day-to-day without food is a real concern.”
“But essentially, right, we noticed across HBCUs, across the United States, that people and HBCU students were not just necessarily food deserts, but were food insecure,” Howard University Student Association (HUSA) Vice President, Murphy Jones said.
According to an article published in the Journal of American College Health by Duke University, students experiencing food insecurity suffered in their academics compared to students being food secure because this showed lack of financial support while in college.
Fluitt is one of the main people responsible for spearheading the additional food pantry. She talked about the importance of the pantry, the purpose it would serve to the Howard community, and the stigma surrounding food insecurity on college campuses.
“The assumption sometimes is ‘oh, a person is in college, they’re finding ways to better themselves…and so they don’t still have struggles, but that is a false assumption,” Fluitt said. “The reality is that people do experience food insecurity on different levels.”
“The whole entire point of the food pantry is for students to have a place where they can go and get their food and most importantly be in a judge free zone and not be judged by anyone,” Murphy Jones said.
“Our campus health director and our Student Advocacy Director both worked tirelessly around the clock to ensure that not only do students feel seen,” and “that they feel heard,” but that students continuously feel seen, heard, and get what was promised to them.
The initiative has garnered praise from students, acknowledging the efforts of the university and HUSA to establish the food pantry on campus as a valuable resource.
“I hope this food pantry can be a resource to students as it shows that other students are not alone,” said Leniyah Dowdell, a sophomore health science major from Chicago, Illinois.
Dowdell expressed hope that the pantry would serve as a vital source and help demonstrate solidarity among students facing similar challenges. “Most people don’t shed light on the fact that there are people struggling on our campus. I hope that the food pantry does start as a foundation for students to know that they are not alone,” she said.
Fatiat Mustapha, a freshman marketing major from Tucson, Arizona, agreed with Dowdell. “I hope that the ones that really need it can get the most out of it,” she said.
Copy edited by Whitney Meritus