Hunger is a hidden crisis on campuses across the United States with 20 percent of students at four-year private colleges struggling to access enough food, according to Hunger on Campus.
Juan Resto is one of them.
“I’ve personally struggled with food,” said the first-year psychology student at Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University). “It’s a little reassuring to see I’m not the only one, but I wish that wasn’t true.”
Taking active steps to curb the growing issue, Jefferson’s Ramily Market gives students in need non-perishable goods and hygiene products for free. Located behind the information desk in the Kanbar Campus Center, students can grab as many things as they need. Popular items include mac and cheese, jars of tomato sauce, soup and protein bars.
“We want to supply whatever they feel like they need at that moment,” said Ali Stefanik, Jefferson’s assistant director of engagement for diversity and social justice, who oversees the Ramily Market.
Students complete a quick digital survey on arrival answering questions like, “Is this an emergency situation?” and “Do you regularly feel like you don’t have enough access to food?” They still can use the market regardless of how they answer.
“When people come by, I can empathize with them and show that they’re not the only ones struggling,” said Resto, a student worker at the Ramily Market. “So, it makes it a little easier.”
Opening on the first day of classes this fall semester, the market has already had 65 visitors, supplying them with 352 food items and hygiene products.
“We got this donated this morning, and I bet if you come tomorrow, it won’t be here,” said Stefanik, holding a jar of tomato sauce.
The Ramily Market accepts donations from the University community in Kanbar 205. See the market wish list here.