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A recent study estimates 22 percent of U.S. college students are food insecure.
Donate to Pitchfork Pantry on Feb. 14 at Hayden Lawn or Taylor Place Mall.
January 27, 2017

Sun Devil students join forces to help classmates who can't afford to eat properly; studies show huge need for the service

Freshman year at ASU, Stephanie Kaufmann watched a friend who couldn’t afford to eat leave school. 

The friend, who worked multiple jobs on top of a full-time school schedule to make ends meet, dropped out because “she just couldn’t muster up the energy anymore to keep going.” Kaufmann, now a senior majoring in drawing and art history, said. “At one point, I was sharing my meal plan with her. And even then, it just wasn’t enough.”

Moved to action, Kaufmann began pushing for a food pantry on campus to provide for students in need. After months of planning and help from fellow students and faculty, Pitchfork Pantry launched this month with locations on ASU’s Tempe and Downtown Phoenix campuses. 

“It’s been amazing how much the community has come together,” Kaufmann said in reference to the food drives and volunteer hours that helped make the pantry possible. “When you’re trying to pursue your education, the last thing you need to worry about is being hungry.”

A recent study put the number of college students in the U.S. who are food insecure — lacking reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food — at 22 percent. College of Health Solutions assistant professor Meg Bruening conducted her own study of ASU freshmen living in residence halls in 2016 and found that among that specific group, the number was closer to 35 percent.

Considering those students are required to purchase a meal plan, that may be surprising to some. However, as Kaufmann explained, the plans aren’t always adequate. For example, students can buy plans that provide only one meal a day.

Bruening’s study also found that food insecurity is associated with unhealthy eating habits and increased rates of depression and anxiety.

“So there are some pretty intense consequences of food insecurity,” said Bruening.

At the same time Bruening was finishing up her study and working on getting a food pantry at ASU’s Downtown campus, she heard of Kaufmann’s charge to do the same in Tempe. The two joined forces, and Pitchfork Pantry was born.

Bruening helped secure funding with an ASU sustainability grant, allowing for the purchase of refrigerators so the pantries can soon provide dairy and produce in addition to pre-packaged food like soup, pasta and peanut butter. Freezers will be added as well, to store food gleanedIn relation to food, gleaning refers to collecting that is leftover and would otherwise go to waste. from local sources, including restaurants and other food banksPitchfork Pantry is working out agreements to glean from both United Food Bank and Starbucks..

Bruening also introduced Kaufmann to junior nutrition major Rebecca Bender, who had helped Bruening with her study and had a related interest in reducing food waste.

“The amount of food we waste in the U.S. is mind-boggling,” Bender said. “It makes me very frustrated.”

So Kaufmann and Bender combined their shared interests in the form of the Student Anti-Hunger Coalition, which oversees efforts behind Pitchfork Pantry, as well as emerging initiatives including a university composting program in conjunction with ASU Zero Waste, and the Campus Kitchens Project, which recovers food from cafeterias and dining halls that would otherwise be thrown away and repurposes it into new meals.

The coalition has about 15 members, all of whom share responsibilities that include working shifts at the pantries, picking up and delivering food, and organizing food drives.

“The coolest thing about the coalition is that every member is a leader in another student organization,” said Bruening, who serves as the coalition’s faculty adviser. “So they can go back to those groups and help mobilize the larger student body.”

As for Pitchfork Pantry, it’s a work in progress, but Bruening said they plan to eventually have a location on every campus. She stressed that the existing pantries are, however, open to all ASU students, regardless of their academic year or which campus they attend — all they need is an ASU student ID.

Of the students who have already visited the pantry, Kaufmann said the general reaction has been overwhelming enthusiasm, with some relieved to have a source of food if they run out funds for the dining halls, and others who are looking forward to donating their surplus.

The next food drive will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14, at Hayden Lawn on the Tempe campus and at Taylor Place Mall on the Downtown campus. Visit the Pitchfork Pantry Facebook page for updates and changes.

Pitchfork Pantry is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays on the Tempe campus at ASU Health Services (South) Sonora Center, and from 6 to 9 p.m. Sundays on the Downtown campus at the Taylor Place Demo Kitchen.

Pitchfork Pantry flier

 
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Jimmy Carter accepts O’Connor Justice Prize at ASU ceremony

ASU honors Jimmy Carter for humanitarian work.
The Carter Center focuses on world peace, democracy and disease prevention.
January 27, 2017

Former president receives honor for humanitarian work focused on world peace, democracy and disease prevention

Former President Jimmy Carter said Friday that the U.S. should be “a champion of peace,” “human rights” and “generosity,” aspirations he said would stem worries over the country’s future.

“We should be the nation on Earth where anyone who has a conflict or potential for military conflict, they should say ‘Why don’t we go to Washington?’ ” he said shortly after accepting the O’Connor Justice Prize, administered by Arizona State University and named for retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.  

“The United States is a champion of peace. The United States is a champion of human rights. The United States is a champion of generosity … America reaches out to people in need because we are the greatest country. That’s the kind of super power the United States ought to be.”

Carter, 92, visited Phoenix to accept the honor for his post-presidency humanitarian work. Through his nonprofit, The Carter Center, he has focused on world peace, democracy and disease prevention. He became the first ex-president to win the honor, which recognizes O’Connor’s legacy and efforts on behalf of judicial independence and human rights.  

Previous winners include Ana Palacio, a former foreign affairs minister for Spain who worked to incorporate human rights into the fabric of the European Union, and Navanethem Pillay, a former South African judge who fought apartheid.

About 300 people attended the award ceremony at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel.

Patricia Wald, whom Carter appointed as a federal appeals court judge, presented the award while O’Connor applauded with the audience. 

“His achievements out of office is just as impressive as his achievements while in office,” Wald said, adding that his integrity and honesty restored trust in government in the wake of the Watergate scandal.

She also noted his international legacy, saying “he has sincerely earned his title as the ‘human rights president.’”

Palacio led a brief Q&A session with Carter, ranging from world peace to women’s rights.

“Peace, justice and human rights have been the guiding light of our organization from the beginning,” Carter said. He added human rights must be “fair, honest and vigorously pursued.”

Carter said one of his proudest accomplishments in office was appointing more women as federal judges than all previous presidents combined.

At the time, he said, “it wasn’t easy to find women who were qualified for their service in the judicial system, because there were not deans in law schools and not heads of law firms” who were women.

Carter served as president from 1977 to 1981. During his time in office, he established diplomatic relations with China and forged an arms-limitation deal with Russia.   

Since then, he has used his Atlanta-based center to eradicate Guinea worm disease and mediate conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa. He also supports human activists by appealing on their behalf to world leaders.

He said the idea for the center was seeded at Camp David in 1978 while negotiating a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

“We felt like we could offer our mediation services to the world, and we began to do that,” Carter said. “I soon realized that was just one aspect of it … later we expanded our horizons a little bit to fill all the vacuums in the world.”

Last year, the center focused on advancing the peace process in Sudan, fighting malaria in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and monitoring the presidential election in Zambia.  

Carter said he has observed and monitored more than 100 elections around the world.   

His center’s mission is “guided by a fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering.”

The former Georgia governor, Navy veteran and peanut farmer won the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize for his “decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development,” according to the Nobel Foundation’s website.

The 86-year-old O’Connor watched the ceremony from a wheelchair in the front row.

Carter thanked her, calling the former justice a “great hero” and one of his “favorite fly-fishing companions.”

“I didn’t always agree with everything that Ronald Reagan did,” Carter said, “but selecting her as a justice was one of the best decisions he ever made.”

Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now.