SAINT PETERSBURG, Fla. — Many college campuses have closed their doors and transitioned to remote learning to promote social distancing and fight the spread of COVID-19, but for some students, that means less access to food and other resources they need to survive.
"A lot of our students are struggling just like a lot of people are right now with food insecurity. Grocery stores, a lot of items are out and it's difficult for students especially if they don't have transportation to go to the grocery store and pick up items," said Stacey Struhar, a registered dietitian at USF who oversees the campus food pantry.
To combat this, the University of South Florida has opened its Feed-A-Bull food pantry to students through the pandemic. USF says it made the decision because some students might have reduced income and ways to get food.
"Every student will get some sort of grain product, a protein item, fruit, vegetables, soup, things like that, so they can get a wide variety of the different nutrients that they need," said Struhar.
Starting this week, the pantry will operate to help students enrolled at USF’s Tampa campus. The program is confidential, and USF says it has new systems for distributing food in ways that maintain proper social distancing.
The food pantry is open Tuesday through Thursday. Hours vary by day. Click here for more information. Donations are encouraged.
Saint Petersburg College also has a food pantry available for students at the Midtown campus. Current students can get food on Mondays and Wednesdays between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
"The reality of it is if they're hungry, they cannot focus on their academics," said Marilyn Shaw, communications coordinator for St. Petersburg College.
The college's food pantry offers a variety of food options to SPC students who present a valid ID. Shaw added the college also offers financial support to students who need help making ends meet in other areas.
"We have an emergency fund where community members can donate money so that we can support the students through if they need support for their light bill. Their rent needs to be paid toiletries, anything," said Shaw.
USF has a similar grant program. A spokesperson said the USF United Support Fund is available to assist students facing financial challenges.
Students can apply for help here; those looking to make donations can do so here. So far, the fund has raised more than $78,000.
SPC also welcomes donations for its food bank and student emergency fund.
Emerald Morrow is a reporter with 10News WTSP. Like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. You can also email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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