Southern Campus to address food issues

Ohio University Southern students Mary Jane Parsons (left) and Robert Webb (right), created the Bobcats Share Box, which will help individuals with food insecurities on campus by providing a place where students can pick up food items. The box is part of

Photo courtesy of: David Nelson

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Southern Campus to address food issues

Across the country, college students often struggle for basic needs like shelter, food and clothing. Ohio University Southern is working to meet those needs as part of a university-wide effort called Basic Needs OHIO.

David Nelson, director of the Human Services Technology program at Southern, said most people don't realize how big the issue of food insecurity is for university students.

"Approximately 7 percent of our student population is impacted," he said. "I helped 28 students get emergency food from food banks as well as helped several sign up for food stamps."

The Southern Campus Human Services Technology Club and other campus groups have taken on this initiative after witnessing students without resources to purchase food. Nelson is working with student groups, faculty and staff to address this issue. He said students started the conversation, sharing stories about classmates who did not have money or anything to eat during a long class day on campus.

"One thing led to another, and they asked if the Human Services Technology Club could sponsor a 'blessing box,' much like the ones in the community," said Nelson.

Student Robert Webb constructed the box, which resembles the Riffe Center on the Southern Campus. Student Mary Jane Parsons painted and decorated the box. The box, called the Bobcats Share Box, will be stocked and located at the Mains Rotunda of the Riffe Center.

"We are receiving donations from some community agencies and we are hoping that faculty, staff and students also make donations," Nelson said.

Many college students who experience food insecurity struggle to reach milestones such as year-to-year persistence and degree completion and need additional institutional support to continue their studies. Often, when students struggle economically, they opt to withdraw from the university, which can lead to continued poverty.

"Anytime we can remove barriers like food insecurity, we help ensure our students will succeed in their studies, graduate and enter the workforce," said Nicole Pennington, Dean of the Southern Campus.

The Human Services Technology Club and other campus groups like the Student Social Workers Association, Psychology Club, and others are working together to provide pantry items for the Bobcats Share box. Nelson said church or civic organizations that would like to help stock the Bobcat Shares Box should call 740-533-4582, or email