PNW tackles student hunger by expanding food pantry services to Westville campus



Chancellor Keon introduced the Chancellor’s Challenge in an effort to encourage donations for the on campus food pantries.

More than 40 food insecure PNW students have been fed by the university’s new Food Pantry this school year.

The pantry, created at the Hammond campus after a survey found that 75% of students said there were times when they did not have enough food for themselves, will be expanded to Westville this semester.

“We have … students who worry about their next meal,” said Scott Iverson, executive director of Housing and Residential Education. “If they need food, it’s here. They are provided a peace of mind.” 

Student hunger is a growing concern nationally. In 2019, a study of nearly 167,000 college students found 39% of respondents had been food insecure in the 30 days before the survey was conducted. The study, #RealCollege survey, is the nation’s largest, longest-running annual assessment of basic needs insecurity among college students.

The study found that rates of food insecurity for students at four-year colleges range from 35% to 48%.

The PNW Food Pantry has attracted support from both students and community groups. Iverson said nearly 4,000 food items have been collected during the Food Bank’s pilot period in the fall semester. It has been supported by 13 food drives and $2,400 in financial donations.

Organizations like the Munster Girl Scouts provided donations and Iverson said the Food Bank is considering partnerships with local grocery stores.

To promote the Food Pantry, Chancellor Thomas Keon has introduced the Chancellor’s Challenge, a friendly competition sponsored to encourage donations. The college or vice chancellor unit that collects the most non-perishable food items wins the coveted Chancellor’s Cup, a traveling trophy.

The next food distribution will take place in March, after spring break.