Izzy’s Food Pantry Reduces Food Insecurity on Campus

TAMU-CC students may volunteer their time at food drives and events held by Izzy’s Food Pantry. Students may also donate hygiene items, non-perishable food items, and cafeteria swipes to the food pantry.

Photo Courtesy of TAMU-CC Marketing and Communications Photographs.

TAMU-CC students may volunteer their time at food drives and events held by Izzy’s Food Pantry. Students may also donate hygiene items, non-perishable food items, and cafeteria swipes to the food pantry.

“Food insecurity is more common than people think, and I didn’t realize that until I started working at Izzy’s food pantry. I use the pantry because sometimes I can’t afford to go over my grocery budget. It provides me with a lot of things I need weekly. It’s helped relieve some of my stress and find more balance with school. It helps many students and makes food one less stressor they have to worry about,” said Ashley Seesengood, a junior psychology major at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and a student worker at Izzy’s Food Pantry. 

According to The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), food insecurity is a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. Food insecurity also refers to a “lack of available financial resources for food at the household level,” according to Feeding America.

Izzy’s Food Pantry, located at room 310 in the University Center, provides proteins, grains, and canned fruits and vegetables along with perishable food items for qualifying students. (Photo Courtesy of TAMU-CC Marketing and Communications Photographs.)

Although the prevalence of food insecurity among college students varies, data shows that the problem is very real. A survey conducted by the Hope Center among more than 38,000 college students in America in 2020 found that 44% of students at two-year colleges and 38% of students at four-year institutions experienced food insecurity in the prior 30 days.

Food insecurity takes a toll on students’ physical and mental health, according to Lisa Perez, Ed.D., assistant vice president for Student Life at TAMU-CC. “Lack of access to nutritious foods not only leads to health problems such as malnutrition, but also leads to mental health problems like anxiety and depression. The stress of not knowing where the next meal may come from takes a toll on a student’s quality of life and ability to succeed in the classroom. Research shows that worrying about food has a negative impact on students’ grades and academic performance,” Dr. Lisa stated. 

To combat food insecurity on campus, TAMU-CC partnered with the Coastal Bend Food Bank to create Izzy’s Food Pantry. The pantry provides food assistance for TAMU-CC students in need by helping students meet their nutritional needs and minimizing adverse impacts on their academic success. Students who qualify for Izzy’s Food Pantry may set weekly appointments to visit the pantry and are allowed to gather up to 25 items per week. 

“Students who lack food are more tired and have less energy for studying. The pantry provides groceries for students to be more energized in their classes. Students are also able to provide food for their dependents with the groceries, which is great for parents who are full-time students with jobs. Sometimes the pantry has enough supplies for students to gather enough groceries for the whole week,” Ashley stated. 

“The pantry carries both perishable and non-perishable foods. There are many vegan and vegetarian options. There are healthy food options including vegetables, dry fruits, plant-based milk, and fresh produce at certain events. Additionally, the pantry provides students with hygiene items such as period products and toilet paper,” Ashley stated. 

“Along with utilizing the food pantry, I encourage students to apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Qualifying students will receive assistance in purchasing healthy food and moving towards self-sufficiency,” Dr. Perez stated.

Students in need should not hesitate to take advantage of Izzy’s Food Pantry, according to the pantry staff. “There’s no reason for students to feel embarrassed about using the pantry. The pantry isn’t just for students who can’t afford groceries. Anyone who qualifies for the pantry should be taking the opportunity to get all the groceries they can,” Ashley stated. “I know students may have a self-imposed stigma around using the food pantry, but they shouldn’t. I hope students know that there is no judgment here. We want our students to be successful and graduate, so they will no longer be in the position where they are worried about their next meal,” Dr. Perez stated.

 

To donate to Izzy’s Food Pantry or to book an appointment for food assistance, visit: https://www.tamucc.edu/food-pantry/