Fighting Hunger

by Emily Mosier

Monica Bishop knows what it’s like to ache from hunger. It can hurt so much it “clouds the mind,” the sophomore English major from Birmingham, Alabama said. 

“That’s why it is important to be sympathetic with those struggling with this issue as it is almost uncontrollable and, sometimes, debilitating,” she added.

Student Advocates for Basic Needs, a Troy University student organization that runs a food pantry and other programs to help combat food insecurity, spotlighted its efforts at a Jan. 25 cooking seminar at the Trojan Village 200 communal kitchen. 

Up to 50 percent of college students may face hunger during their college career, according to a 2022 study conducted by Feeding Alabama, a nonprofit that advocates for food assistance programs.

In Pike County, 23 percent of residents are food insecure. 

 “Being hungry definitely can affect someone’s ability to function,” Bishop said. “When I went without dinner, I had a hard time getting my homework done or doing anything physical like chores.” 

Troy history professors, Dr. Martin Olliff and Dr. Elizabeth Blum, demonstrated how to slice vegetables and prepare quinoa as they taught lessons about healthy, affordable eating. 

“It’s really important for students to be able to know how to feed themselves and how to cook for themselves, particularly in today’s world where we’ve got so many unhealthy food options,” Blum said.that if “If you can cook for yourself, you’ll be better off.”

Other hunger-fighting efforts by the Student Advocates for Basic Needs and Troy University’s Office of Civic Engagement, of which the student group is a part, include an annual spring food drive and Campus Kitchens, a program that repurposes dining hall food for the community. Additionally, the groups run Backpack for Kids to feed children and have a community garden. They also offer meal plan scholarships to Troy University students.

“With the meal scholarship, there were just too many students that said that they could not afford food,” said Adaela Peak, student-leader of Student Advocates for Basic Needs and a senior psychology major from Geneva, Alabama. “It’s just heartbreaking.”

College students face food insecurity for a variety of reasons, said Lauren Cochran, Director of the Office of Civic Engagement.

Hungry students often struggle financially, have sick family members to take care of, or select a meal plan that doesn’t cover all their needs – a common occurrence among freshmen, Cochran said.

Some students also miss the opportunity to eat when on-campus dining options are open because of their class, work and extracurricular schedules.

“Every student’s situation is so different, and that’s why it is hard to figure out and hard to meet those needs,” Cochran said. “We don’t want any need to be a barrier to students completing their degree.”

Students can make appointments for the food pantry online by visiting To schedule an appointment to speak with the Office of Civic Engagement about any need, or to find out how to support these efforts, email   

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