Photo by Kayla Michaud |CIGAR|
St. Augustine’s Episcopal Center, located on Lower College Road, is in partnership with the University of Rhode Island to help acknowledge and improve food insecurity on campus.
Food insecurity doesn’t mean that an individual doesn’t have access to food.
It’s about needing to choose how they’re going to organize their money in order to feed themselves.
“If you have to choose between buying a book or buying a meal then you are food insecure,” said Jan Grinnell, chaplin to URI. “If you have to say ‘I have enough money to buy food but I’m really going to eat every other day’ you are food insecure.”
As food insecurity is a growing problem across many college campuses, Grinnell is in partnership with URI to help students in anyway possible if they are food insecure while offering programs with St. Augustine’s that are open to all students.
St Augustine’s runs a program called Feed a Friend that invites URI students, staff and families to stop by for a home cooked meal once a month. This is solely a welcome event, no expectations are placed upon those who attend. The only requirement is that you bring a friend with you to dinner.
“It’s free, [there’s] no strings attached,” said Grinnell. “It’s just for us to be able to meet students, [and for] students [to] be able to meet with us.”
Another program offered to students on campus is Rhody Outpost, an emergency food pantry on campus. It’s designed to provide students who are food insecure, whether they live on or off campus, with proper food services and resources.
This program started up when four students were interested in starting a food pantry on campus in the spring of 2013. Rhody Outpost started out in collaboration with the Johnny Cakes Center in Wakefield, Rhode Island, Feinstein Center and Rhode Island Food Bank. Now Rhody Outpost is run through student affairs on campus but is hosted in St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church.
Grinnell makes it clear that students don’t have to be a member of the church or practice religion to attend any of their events. They welcome all people. She believes the most important message that the church offers is on their sign outside that reads, “Welcome. God loves you just as you are and so do we.”
However, Grinnell and other members of the church aren’t trying to pull students into religion. Their main goal is get to know students and welcome them to any events the church is hosting.
“We aren’t trying to sell Christianity or religion,” said Grinnell. “We’re certainly here on Sundays if students want us, but that’s not why we’re out on campus. We’re out on campus to help students know that they’re accepted as they are.”
Grinnell recommends that students who are food insecure see Dr. Jacqui Tisdale in the Department of Student Affairs on campus, who has the work ethic to professionally assist with food insecurities.
The next Feed a Friend dinner is Wednesday, March 21 from 5:30 p.m to 7:00 p.m. Grinnell along with the rest of St. Augustine’s encourages students to bring a friend and stop by for a home cooked meal.