“It would break my heart if someone couldn’t study because they have to work more hours at their job just so they can afford food,” said Ben Chenot, a sophomore at the U studying biology and nutrition.
As the new director of the Feed U Pantry, Chenot is tackling the problem of food insecurity head-on. The Feed U Pantry seeks to minimize hunger for individuals at the U by providing free, accessible, and nutritious food to students, faculty, and staff.
Chenot described food insecurity as “being unsure of where your next meal is coming from.” In America, 11 percent of citizens are classified as food insecure. When looking at college students specifically, that number jumps to a staggering 30 percent. Many students are faced with situations where they have to choose between paying for food or bills. Chenot sympathizes with these individuals, no matter what situation they’re in. “We all hit road bumps in our lives,” he said. “As college students, income might not be so stable.”
Chenot hopes to reach even more students through the Feed U Pantry, setting goals to scale up the use of the pantry by 500 percent. “There are a lot of populations we aren’t reaching,” he said. “I want everyone who might need this resource to be aware of it.” It’s clear that Chenot not only cares about quantity but quality as well, seeking to provide highly nutritious foods. “These are growing, creative, young minds that need a lot of diverse and nutritious fuel,” he said.
Chenot is fighting for his community, and his passion shows the moment you speak to him — “At the end of the day, we’re all human beings. We need to be there for one another,” he said.
Find this article and a lot more in the 2020 “Student Innovation @ the U” report. The publication is presented by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to celebrate student innovators, change-makers, and entrepreneurs.