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A New Food Pantry At Bowie State University Works To Ease Food Insecurity For Its Students

BOWIE, Md. (WJZ) — Devin Hodge is a commuter student at Bowie State University.

"As a commuter student, it's always between gas and food and so it's like, I have to get to campus," Hodge said.

It's a tough choice Devin and other students must make.

"I might have $15 so it's either going in the tank or going to eat and it's like, I can be hungry as long as I make it to class, like I feel like getting to class is more important to me than eating sometimes and I feel like I shouldn't have to make that compromise, but unfortunately sometimes we do," Hodge said.

It's why Bowie State University, with Food Lion Feeds, opened a food nutrition bank in the campus library building, offering free food to any student who might need it.

"We've opened it to all students so you don't have to meet a financial criteria," said Dr. Rita Wutoh.

Dr. Rita Wutoh, director of the wellness center, said too many of their students only eat one meal per day, even their athletes.

"The athletes are losing weight when they should be gaining weight and bulking up," Wutoh said.

Cobi Heron stopped into the bank to grab granola bars.

WJZ's Annie Rose Ramos: "How hard has it been with finances?"

"It's been pretty difficult, especially this semester it's my last semester so paying rent like I said, I live off-campus so I've been working paying rent has been tough," Heron said.

"Our students commonly have one or two jobs as well as carrying a full load, academic credit load, so it's really a need for them to have their, to be able to eat on a daily basis so they can perform better academically," Wutoh said.

A national survey finds more than six million students nationwide are affected by food or housing insecurity.

Food Lion feeds donated $10,000 to help Bowie State open the food pantry along with food, about 75 students visit per day.

"When I was here last week I grabbed some potatoes and those potatoes were in every meal last week and it was definitely helpful to know I ate good last week and I didn't have to worry about paying for it," Hodge said.

Bowie State is accepting food donations and toiletries, click here for more information. 

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