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Georgia Gwinnett College opens on-campus pantry, helping students combat food insecurity

School officials report around 40% of students on campus deal with food insecurity

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Food insecurity is an issue impacting one in eight people in metro Atlanta, and the issue can pop up places which may be surprising. 

College campuses are no exception. 

Georgia Gwinnett College opened its care pantry this summer in response to the need, which school leaders say has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to a fall 2020 campus survey, 19% of students reported knowing someone who did not have enough to eat, 43.6% of students identified struggling to meet a need and 24.5% of students were worried whether their food would run out before they could get more.

The care pantry — part of a partnership with Lawrenceville Co-Op — seeks to fill that gap, offering an alternative for students who may be choosing between paying bills or their next meal. 

"One of the greatest challenges is sitting in a classroom when you are hungry and trying to remain focused," Kat Kyle, vice president of human resources at the college, said. "So knowing it is very hard to learn on an empty stomach, it's so important for us to ensure we're giving good, healthy fuel of our bodies for our students so they can be their best version of themselves." 

Kyle called the pantry a "labor of love" to those students and their families needing such support.

"This has been an amazing experience, truly born out of the labor of love of faculty and staff who wanted to give back to students, recognizing we have many in need," she said. 

Such need, Kyle reminded, is ongoing beyond the holiday giving season. 

"Making certain that you're reaching out to see how you can help, not just during this time period, but year-round, is really important," she said.