Billiken Bounty Bestows Relief to Students

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Billiken Bounty Bestows Relief to Students

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While most college campuses have many different restaurants, dining halls and other options for students to purchase food, there is a growing number of college students that are experiencing food insecurity. In response to this need for healthy and easy-to-obtain food, SLU students have started the brand-new Billiken Bounty Student Food Pantry.

The pantry, located in the Busch Student Center, is a place for students to get healthy and easy-to-store food, as well as hygiene products. The only thing necessary is a SLU ID. The pantry was started by SLU students Madalyn Leakey and Samantha Kiss, in cooperation with Dean of Students Mona Hicks.

In a SLU Newslink interview, Kiss said that she wanted the pantry to be a “place of dignity” for SLU students, and somewhere they could see “friendly faces.”

Before starting the pantry, the students sent out a survey to the student body and found that around 20 percent of SLU’s student population are in a position where they could face food insecurity during their four years at SLU.

The survey also indicated that there were SLU students who went full days without a meal. This is not an uncommon finding, as there is a growing number of students on college campus across the country that are facing food insecurity according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

There are a number of reasons that students can face food insecurity, even at a place where there are many options for food: the rising cost of tuition and housing, costs of car payments and bills. Many non-traditional students such as those with families, often find it hard to make ends meet while studying at college, which makes it even harder to find meals for themselves.

SLU joins other schools in Missouri, including Mizzou, UMKC and UMSL, that have food pantries on their campuses as well. The pantries are funded and supported largely through the school communities.

Billiken Bounty was supported and kick-started through SLU community groups. Billiken Backers held a drive that donated over $5,000 and many departments throughout the University have donated as well.

One example is DPS, which has become a large supporter, and even sponsors a shelf at the pantry. SLU students also donate their time to help at the pantry, with around 20 students currently volunteering at Billiken Bounty.

“It’s nice that we can serve a community that’s close and with Billiken Bounty, we can’t be closer to our community of SLU students, our friends and peers,” Leakey said in SLU Newslink. “Everybody I have come across is so passionate about helping our students and improving our SLU community.”

Many SLU students think that Billiken Bounty is a long overdue and much-needed addition to the SLU campus. Sophomore Mary Beal said that she knows many students who are in need of a resource like Billiken Bounty.

“Many colleges do this [pantry program] already. It will help those students who are not able to go home for break,” said Beal.

Beal said that even though food insecurity is often a well-hidden problem at higher-cost schools like SLU, she knows of students who have been forced to refrain from participating in extracurriculars because the cost could keep them from having meals.

“In my short dabble of being interested in sororities and Greek life, many girls told me that they dropped [their sororities] because it became expensive and they were concerned about buying food,” said Beal.

More information about the pantry is available on SLU’s website and any student interested in possibly volunteering can contact [email protected]