By RAEGAN NEUFELD
Tiger Media Network
Food insecurity and related issues have all been items of interest for the Student Government Association this semester and were again addressed at Thursday’s meeting, as well as a conversation on civic engagement.
As discussed during previous meetings, food pantries in Hays and the Tiger Pantry in the Memorial Union on campus are not as fully stocked as in previous years. A decrease in available funds is a part of the problem across the board.
At last night’s meeting, Public Relations Director Aspen Patrick said she is working with Dillons and the Ellis County Emergency Medical Services to organize a city-wide food drive.
“They’ve done it in past years and they filled three ambulances full of food, so if we could do that again to fill our food pantries that would be great,” she said.
Sen. Grace McCord, who sits on the Faculty Senate’s Student Affairs Committee, reported on the issue as well. According to McCord, the Fort Hays Food and Hunger Initiatives Committee used to receive excess food items from Chartwells, the university’s former food service provider.
“I don’t know if anyone’s tried seeing if (the Union Catering Company) would be open to that, but I thought that would be something that could help,” she said.
McCord also discussed safety concerns brought up in her committee meeting, specifically with the classrooms in Rarick Hall.
“If you’re in a classroom in Rarick, there’s no way to lock it from the inside,” she said. “If we were to have a security threat on campus, there’s no way for students, faculty and staff to be safe in that building.”
One current idea for a solution is to have the doors re-keyed. McCord said they also suggested installing trauma kits in each building on campus.
Aside from regular business, senators also heard from guest speaker Donnette Noble, the director of civic learning and engagement at FHSU.
Noble spoke about the university’s community engagement initiatives, including the Campus Community Collaborative. The collaborative works on projects like Swipe Out Hunger and Co-Creating Community.
“This group was initially launched in 2001 as an advisory committee to the Center for Civic Leadership,” she said. “But then we dissolved that center to refocus our efforts, and this group said ‘we don’t want to just be advising, we want to be doing,’.”
According to Noble, students benefit from community engagement in several ways.
“Students who are connected to their campus community and who are engaged in this meaningful and powerful work that we’re doing have better retention rates, GPAs and graduation rates than students who don’t have those strong connections and networks that they’re working with,” she said.”
More information about Civic Learning and Engagement can be found on their FHSU webpage.
Following fall break, the next SGA meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Nov. 30 in the Black and Gold Room.