Penn State

‘Hunger doesn’t go away because we get a break’: Collaboration aims to help students

Lion’s Pantry is participating in “break boxes” to help students, visiting scholars or international students who are staying in town.
Lion’s Pantry is participating in “break boxes” to help students, visiting scholars or international students who are staying in town. Photo provided, file

Through the Lion’s Pantry, Penn State’s food bank, and Abba Java Coffeehouse, university students who are food insecure have regular places where they can receive sustenance. But with winter break approaching, that might not have been the case if not for a new collaboration.

Because both Lion’s Pantry and Abba Java — a pantry pickup location — are closed over the semester break, the idea was formed to create “break boxes” to help students, visiting scholars or international students who are staying in town, said Jen Gruendler, campus minister and director of the Wesley Foundation, which operates Abba Java, 299 Locust Lane.

She said the boxes are inspired by children’s backpack programs — packing backpacks with food for school kids to bring home for the weekend.

Food for the boxes was provided by the Lion’s Pantry, Central Pa. Food Bank and members of the congregation, Gruendler said.

Boxes will include nonperishable food items and a giftcard to a local grocery store, she said.

The Lion’s Pantry normally sees between 20 and 40 students per week, said Sarah Hohman, communications intern at the pantry.

“It’s an incredible service that we’re able to provide all year, but we also recognize that hunger doesn’t go away because we get a break, and it’s a really great feeling to not just leave that problem behind when we go away for our vacation,” Hohman said. “... It’s an incredible feeling to be able to continue to provide this service with this collaboration.”

Gruendler said only two students requested break boxes, but they made an additional four to have on hand for anyone who might still need one.

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