Public Health major combats food insecurity

Quinn Sykora

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How big of an impact can a granola bar make on a student’s final grades? Struggles with food insecurity could be the difference between passing and failing.

Ruth Gomez, a senior public health major, has used her capstone to attempt to alleviate food insecurity at Pacific University.

All public health majors must complete an intervention for a problem and determine a specific population it affects.

To address the issue of food insecurity, Gomez decided to work with the Boxer Food Share. Her main focuses included improving outreach, deconstructing the stigma around food pantry usage and building community partnerships.

“Food insecurity affects students social, mental and physical health,” Gomez said. “It also can affect grades because it’s hard to focus when you are hungry.”

Gomez also referenced the lack of information concerning food insecurity on small college campuses. However, she said that one thing was clear — the demand was huge.

“The best part about this project is knowing that we are really making a difference,” Gomez said. “We are supporting students in need.”

Gomez also has a personal interest with aiding food insecurity.

“Growing up, my family had to use food pantries,” she said, thinking back to why she truly started working with Boxer Food Share. “Those memories really sparked my interest.”

The Boxer Food Share still has a long way to go, though. “It’s not perfect but hopefully it helps,” Gomez said. The graduating senior hopes that as Boxer Food Share becomes more prevalent on campus, other student leaders will be able to expand and offer even more resources for those in need.

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