NATCHITOCHES, LA (KSLA) - When a student goes to college, they're expected to be able to focus on studying, and getting that final degree. But, for some, they're also worried about their next meal.
Northwestern State University has a program to help struggling students.
Nearly 3 years ago, a group of students at Northwestern State University put together a food pantry as a class project. The students surveyed the campus.
"The overwhelming response was that students need access to food," said Denise Bailey.
Denise Bailey is an assistant professor at NSU. She also serves as a coordinator of the Food Pantry.
"Since we've opened, we've been able to serve 769 students, and the majority of those - 60 percent of those have come only one time. The other 40 percent have made several visits to the food pantry," said Bailey.
The project has since grown into a program offered at the school. Nearly 20 percent of the student body population at the campus use the pantry.
"It's really very disheartening when you know that there are students who have this need. The saddest thing to me is that we have students who still are not aware that we offer a food pantry here on campus," said Bailey.
The food pantry is student-led. They operate through volunteers and donations, so they are able to serve the international population and anyone else who needs help that may not be able to get assistance from federal programs.
"The beauty of our food pantry is that we do not require our students to show proof of financial need. They're coming into this food pantry and completing an intake form is their declaration that they have a need and we're here to meet that need," said Bailey.
Giving students the ability to focus their energy on their studies.
A few other universities across Louisiana have similar programs, including at Louisiana Tech.
The NSU food pantry also offers toiletries, clothes, and small kitchen items. If you want to donate, click here.