Keene State Biology Professor Susan Whittemore was at a conference last summer when she first heard statistics about hunger among college students nationwide.
The numbers struck her. Of course, she knew college was expensive, but she hadn’t thought about how that might be affecting her own students’ ability to feed themselves on a day-to-day basis.
There happened to be a Keene State student at that same conference, and Whittemore turned to her, asking if she knew anyone who was struggling to pay for meals. To her surprise, the young woman said, “yes, me.” She described eating the free condiment packages from a small café on campus as a way of grabbing something free to get by.
Whittemore has been working ever since with students, administrators, and local grocers and businesses to get a food bank running Keene State. It’s now open a couple times a week.
Some students are also running a survey on campus on student hunger. Whittemore expects the results to match national trends, where 30 to 40 percent of college students report trouble getting enough to eat on a daily basis.
Keene State is not alone in the food bank venture. Other schools across the state, including the University of New Hampshire and Plymouth State University, have food banks available to students.