#RichlandGives Spotlight: The Ohio State University at Mansfield
Hungry to Learn? Or Just Hungry?
“Students face enough barriers to education. Hunger should not be one of them,” said Norman Jones, dean, and director at Mansfield. “Surveys at Mansfield campus and national research suggest that close to two-thirds of our students lack reliable support for food. What many of us consider minor challenges, students find overwhelming, leading them to drop-out. With relatively minor interventions, we are finding that students can stay enrolled for their long-term success, which means success for our community.”
As an open-admission campus, Mansfield has the highest number of Pell-eligible students and first-generation students to go to a college or university in the Ohio State system. Students who are Pell-eligible (high financial need) or are first-generation typically have a higher number of challenges and needs that inhibit success. Federal financial aid is simply not enough to cover tuition, books, rent, and daily living expenses. And for those students who have overcome disadvantages, enrollment alone is a tremendous accomplishment.
What comes next is the consuming, day-to-day struggle of college. Incidents of students supporting siblings, supporting themselves as emancipated, let alone the academic challenges of balancing work and study time, can prove to be overwhelming. And typically, it is often the smaller issues of a late utility bill or rent that becomes insurmountable.
The Student Emergency Fund and On-Campus Food Pantry serve as the first response measure for students in crisis. Once the immediate need is addressed, then faculty and staff work jointly to provide support to students—counseling, financial planning, assistance in finding work, or reaching out to social services.
A concerned professor at Ohio State Mansfield anonymously established the Student Emergency Aid fund in 2015 as a way to address unusual circumstances for students with life challenges. However, the number of students in need grew, and a Food Pantry was established on campus in 2016. Chief Student Life Officer Donna Hight reported that more and more students are emerging with needs, and the fund needs to be replenished. The campus hopes to raise $5,000 through the 2017 Richland Gives initiative.
Overall Ohio State Mansfield is looking to address community food insecurity with large-scale economic interventions with urban agriculture. Recently, the campus micro farm was constructed to provide longer-term growing space and supply the campus kitchens.