Fifty-four percent of 351 students surveyed experienced food insecurity at Georgetown University because of cost, according to a survey conducted by the Georgetown University Student Association in 2016, the most recent year for which data is available. The rising costs of higher education can make food insecurity have an especially pervasive, if often unseen, impact on college campuses.
The Hoya Hub, a student-run food pantry that opened in October 2018, is an initiative addressing the issue of food insecurity at Georgetown University, according to Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Erika Cohen Derr (GRD ’18) in an email to The Hoya.
“Hoya Hub is meant to be a resource for anyone in our community experiencing food insecurity on an emergency basis. We don’t want any Hoya to go hungry,” Derr wrote.
Around 400 people have completed a voluntary form to gain access to the Hoya Hub since its opening, though it is impossible to say with certainty how many students the Hoya Hub has served because users are not required to register or demonstrate need, according to Derr.
The Hoya Hub expanded to twice its original size in fall 2019 and added a fridge so that, for the first time, perishable as well as nonperishable foods can be stored in the pantry. The pantry aims to provide basic ingredients that students can use to cook meals suitable for their own diets, according to Julianne Licamele (COL ’21), president of the Hoya Hub.
“These basic ingredients give students the autonomy to create what satisfies their needs,” Licamele wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Though the Hoya Hub is a student-created initiative, it is currently sustained by grants and donations from graduates, students and faculty, according to Licamele. Student-led projects have been created with the purpose of supporting the Hoya Hub and furthering its operations, such as the Swipe it Forward Flex Donation Drive and Students Advancing Food Equity.
Swipe it Forward, a semesterly Flex dollar drive run by The Corp, raised over $5,000 to be donated to the Hoya Hub at its last drive in December, according to Eliza Lafferty (COL ’21), the chair of the board of The Corp. SAFE was established in fall 2019 with the goal of organizing food rescues, in which excess food from local restaurants and healthy microwaveable meals are used to stock the Hoya Hub, according to Madison Dyer (NHS ’22), president of SAFE.
“Our main focus definitely is the food rescue because it’s frustrating that there’s so much food waste, or just inequality,” Dyer said.
As students continue to work to increase food accessibility, they make it possible for the Georgetown administration to implement solutions to on-campus food insecurity, according to Sam Dubke (SFS ’21), a co-founder and vice chair of the Hoya Hub.
“If students allow this issue to continue to fall through the cracks, then there will be no impetus for administrators to act. Therefore we have to stay involved and informed,” Dubke wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Furthermore, students must recognize that food insecurity affects people all around the Georgetown community, and university faculty must recognize that full food accessibility should not be a privilege, according to Licamele.
“I consider this a basic need. Money shouldn’t decide whether you get to have a full stomach on a day to day basis,” Licamele wrote.