The Hungry Owl

A new on-campus food pantry will open in March

Some students at Keene State College don’t know where their next meal will come from.

Emily Perry / Equinox Staff

Emily Perry / Equinox Staff

KSC students and faculty are creating a new charity on campus in the hopes to provide food for students experiencing poverty.

Dr. Susan Whittemore is a biology professor who said that with rising tuition costs, students are having a difficult time affording their next meal. “New Hampshire students have the highest student debt in the nation,” Whittemore said. This creates what Whittemore calls food insecurity. The Hungry Owl hopes to end food insecurity for students by supplying free food to those who need it. Whittemore along with Associate Dean of Students Kent Drake-Deese, the Student Nutrition Association and the Pre-Med club are getting the charity underway. The Hungry Owl food pantry will open in the back of Randall on March 25. Drake-Deese said he wants students to get the assistance they need. He said that students are less inclined to go to external charities because of the stigma associated with it.

The pantry hopes to “present it in a way that is attractive to students,” Drake-Deese said.

Whittemore said a recent study at Keene State College showed that 3 out of 25 students surveyed had food insecurity. It is a problem that Whittemore and Drake-Deese said has been overlooked. Drake-Deese said, “Students aren’t open about their financial situation or food insecurity.”

Whittemore said Sodexo and local grocers are planning to donate food to the pantry, but anyone is encouraged to donate.

The Swipe Out Hunger initiative is another program that wants to help students.

Whittemore said it would allow students to use their meal plans to swipe other students into the dining commons.

This is a “nationwide effort to share meal plans,” Drake-Deese said. Plymouth State University and The University of New Hampshire have already adopted this program, according to the colleges’ websites.

“People aren’t going to learn if they are hungry,” Whittemore said. Whittemore doesn’t want students to worry about their next meal. Instead, she wants them focus on their education.

Drake-Deese said it is often difficult to tell whether a student is choosing not to eat, or whether they are financially incapable of eating consistently.

Drake-Deese said he wants students to be aware and realize when their friends aren’t eating enough and encourage them to seek assistance.

“I definitely know people who will eat the same thing over and over again, or won’t have enough money to eat anything healthy,” Keene State College senior and head of the Pre-Med club Haley Zanga said. Zanga is the facilitator of The Hungry Owl and also one of the students who came up with the idea. “Some students often have to choose between eating a good meal or affording reading materials for their classes,” Zanga said.

“Am I going to buy this textbook or food for the week?” Zanga explained that many students who are financially unstable are not open about their situations.

As of now, the majority of textbooks required in the biology department at KSC are online and free to access, according to Zanga. “We want to move towards open education,” Zanga said.

Students and Faculty involved with The Hungry Owl hope to put boxes in the Science Center and in Joslin where people can donate food that will be used for the pantry Zanga said. Zanga said she wants people to “spread the word about the pantry and how people can donate.”

Zanga said that she hopes The Hungry Owl will be beneficial to people at KSCand will eventually become accepted, especially among the student community. “Being a senior is sad because I won’t be able to see [The Hungry Owl’s] full potential. Eventually, I hope this will be something that everyone on campus can utilize,” Zanga said.

Lucas Thors can be contacted at

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