With growing student hunger, college pantries could help

A wooden rocking chair, covered with a blanket, faces Bari-Lynn Abatta’s desk.

This is where Gannon University students sit when they visit Abatta and tell him they haven’t eaten anything for a day, sometimes two.

“Sitting in a rocking chair can be comforting,” said Abatta, who oversees Gannon’s pantry, known as Store U-Knighted. “I have children sitting in this chair crying because they are in need. I am a mom. When I know the children are not eating, my heart is broken.”

After:Fight Dad’s Hunger, Not Each Other, This Holiday Season

Colleges and universities across the country are reporting an increase in the number of students using on-campus pantries. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, about 30% of students experienced food insecurity at some point in their schooling, according to a report by several student organizations against hunger.

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