By Seth Carpenter, Staff Writer–
The Presbyterian Campus Ministry, better known as the Hope House, has been working to ease a burden felt by a concerning number of college students: food insecurity.
In previous years, the House would hold a free lunch every Tuesday for students to attend along with leftovers and other snacks available to anyone who came by throughout the week. However, as with many things these days, the Covid-19 pandemic put a hold on that.
Instead, Director of Hospitality at Hope House, Terry Paris transitioned to creating free care packages of food for students to pick up at the House on Thursdays from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m.
Paris explained the goal of the food bags is to help students who may not qualify for other food programs on campus like Scrappy’s Cupboard.
“We just wanted to catch people who were falling through the cracks. It’s not huge, but anybody that we can feed makes us happy,” Paris said. “And so, I feel like the students who are falling through the cracks there are finding us.”
About 10 to 15 students per week come by for food, according to Paris, and about half of those are repeat visitors.
Paris also emphasized that anyone can sign up to receive food.
“You don’t have to be destitute to ask us for food,” she said. “We don’t have any form that you have to fill out other than to say you’re coming. We don’t ask any questions; we just have food.”
Paris also personally relates to the struggle many students face affording food.
“I mean I didn’t grow up with a lot of money. Food was tight; we had a lot of kids in our family. I know what hungry feels like,” She said. “And when I first was on my own, I didn’t manage my money well. I know what hungry feels like,” she reiterated with a smile and a laugh.
The House’s director of spirituality, the Reverand Tricia Dillon Thomas, also mentioned that students who receive food are anonymous, so they need not worry about any potential stigmas attached with getting free food.
According to Paris, the food is paid for with assistance from other Presbyterian churches as well as via direct donations on their website. Any students in need can register for a free food bag here.
Paris also said that the Hope House is poised to open for normal operations next semester, including Tuesday lunches replacing the food bags, and “students of all faiths and all backgrounds” are welcome.