A diverse community with many students have joined together to solve a problem that flies under the radar for most here on campus. Food insecurity is something that one third of students at KSC struggle with daily. With help from students, Professor of Biology Susan Whittemore, PhD, has created the Hungry Owl, a food pantry on campus that gives students and faculty access to food with the privacy they need and want with it’s student volunteer crew working for its first week of fall semester.
The Hungry Owl’s success during its start up was slow in March of 2018. While students working with the Hungry Owl plan to post flyers around campus, Maxwell Foisey, a senior biology major, who works with the Hungry Owl, said they aren’t banking on those flyers to bring in the students right away. The plan to see more and more students coming and visiting often once the spring hits and people are more inclined to go out and feel comfortable walking around campus. Foisey explained how he thinks foot traffic will increase as the year goes on: “We don’t expect a ton of foot traffic the first week we’re open, we do however, expect more and more people to come and get food as the year goes on and people become more comfortable coming to us.”
The Hungry Owl does face an obstacle going into its second year with having to establish connections all over again with new dining services company. Whittemore said: “It’s unfortunate to go through all the work that we did last year just to go through it again. But hopefully it’ll be a better outcome.” However, Jen Farrell, director of campus life said “Determining how the newest and quickly evolving version of the Dining program can work together with campus partners in appropriate and thoughtful ways to support and discuss campus initiatives is a high priority for both me and the Dining team as we work through this new year.”
The Hungry Owl has expanded its location and now has a venue at the Mason Library. “The Hungry Owl at Mason Library is expected to be a success,” Whittemore said. Students and Whittemore look forward to the expansion because it allows students to access food when it’s most convenient for them. Student’s will essentially have all day to grab a bag of non-perishable items at the circulation desk, which is helpful to students who aren’t able to make it to the pantry during its hours of operation. The bags are chosen to be discreet so anyone who is insecure about needing food won’t feel embarrassed when they grab a bag.
Dean of the Mason Library Celia Rabinowitz, PhD, said that she strongly believes in the values and importance of having a food pantry on campus. This year, the Mason Library is working with the Hungry Owl and will be serving as a second venue for the pantry. The library will be receiving bags on non-perishable items and will be distributing them to those who come in and ask for one.
Dr. Rabinowitz said the library serves as a welcoming place for students and faculty to grab a bag of non-perishable items when they please, and with the bags being behind the circulation desk, she feels students will have a sense of privacy when they get them. Rabinowitz said that with the library’s hours, students and faculty will have a larger time frame to be able to access these bags.
Rabinowitz said she believes this will be a success because during a trial over the summer, all bags given to library were gone within a day.
“So far it’s promising, and we’re excited to see what the Hungry Owl has in store for the Mason Library,” Rabinowitz said.
Emily Carstensen can be contacted at