Seminole Dining/Sodexo presents grant to FSU's Food for Thought Pantry

December 05, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State University’s dining services partner Sodexo has presented an early holiday gift to the university’s food pantry for students. 


The Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation awarded a $1,000 grant to FSU’s Food for Thought Pantry as part of a nationwide campaign supporting more than 40 pantries on college campuses during the 2019-2020 school year. 


The Food for Thought Pantry, operated by FSU’s Dean of Students Department since 2009, plans to allocate the money for purchases of fresh produce. 


Case Manager Haley Gentile said the pantry has seen significant increases in demand and its inventory over the past decade. 


“The Food for Thought Pantry has made a concerted effort to ensure that we’re providing students not just with dry, nonperishable goods as are commonly found in food banks, but also fresh produce, milk and other dairy products, bread and even hygiene products,” Gentile said. “This donation absolutely will contribute to that mission of providing students with a full range of nutritious food.” 


Over the past several years, demand for the service has nearly doubled. The Food for Thought Pantry recorded just over 1,000 visits in 2016. That number increased to 1,160 in 2017 and climbed again last year to 1,752. Through nine months in 2019, the pantry had already responded to more than 2,500 visits. 


Statistics show demand is highest in the fall. For example, Gentile said the Food for Thought Pantry served 86 percent more students in September 2019 compared to the same month a year ago. 


“National assessments of food insecurity, such as the Hope Center’s April 2019 survey, have found as many as 45 percent of college students reported being food insecure within the last 30 days,” Gentile said. “Students who lack economic stability and financial resources may face tough decisions prioritizing rent, utilities, textbooks and their dietary needs.” 


Tara Bracken, general manager of marketing for Seminole Dining, said the dining services business and the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation are focused on helping the FSU community combat food insecurity. 


“This donation is just one way we partner with Florida State to make sure no one is left hungry,” Bracken said. “We offer a program where students on a meal plan can donate one of their guest meal swipes to the Food for Thought Panty, and the value of each swipe is given to students in need.” 


The Food for Thought Pantry includes pasta, almond milk, dry cereal, canned meats, fresh produce and more.  


“It’s a nonjudgmental place where FSU students can visit to supplement their diet,” Gentile said. “We want to make sure enrolled students have the fuel they need to achieve their goals.” 


The Dean of Students Department accepts donations of unexpired, unopened nonperishable foods, hygiene products, cash or gift cards at its main office on the fourth floor of University Center Building A at Doak Campbell Stadium.  


Donors also can make cash contributions through the FSU Foundation, or they can purchase items on the pantry’s Amazon Wish List, such as canned tuna, pasta, granola bars and peanut butter. 


Students with meal plans through Seminole Dining are encouraged to use their FlexBucks to buy items for the food pantry. That option is especially valuable for students with unused FlexBucks. 


“The spring gift-back program allows students to purchase and donate items from our convenience stores on campus using their FlexBucks that expire at the end of the semester,” Bracken added. “We at Seminole Dining understand the correlation between nutrition and academic performance and will do what we can to help students succeed.” 


The Food for Thought Pantry is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays to students with an FSU identification card. 


Call (850) 644-2785 for more information. 


Sodexo created the Stop Hunger initiative in 1996 to expand children’s access to healthy food. In 1999, the company launched the nonprofit Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation. Its mission is to ensure children in the U.S. grow up with dependable access to nutritious food that enables them to lead healthy, productive lives. Since its inception, the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation has donated more than $34 million to alleviate child hunger. Globally, Stop Hunger helps lead efforts against hunger in more than 40 countries.