Southeast Mo. State student fights food insecurity and food waste on campus

SEMO student fights food insecurity and food waste on campus

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - One Southeast Missouri State University student is working to end food insecurity and food waste on campus.

“I think people just really like to help people but it’s not always easy to figure out how,” said Gabrione Kent, the founder of One Meal a Week and a Southeast student.

One Meal a Week donates items to SEMO’s Redhawk Food Pantry. It’s a free service for Southeast employees and students and runs 100 percent on donations.

“I found out how much waste in doing research college campuses have with meal plans, and it’s ridiculous. And SEMO is no exception,” said Kent.

So, to reduce that waste, Kent asks students to purchase non-perishable items with their unused meal plan money.

“I know people who save meals for the end of the week just to bring them to me, and that kind of support is really, really like heartwarming to me,” said Kent.

According to Kent, leftover money gets taken off student accounts at the end of every week. Now, it’s transferred into canned goods, drinks and snacks to benefit those who need them.

“So that is really the heart of what college is supposed to be about, is a student sort of critically thinking about here’s a need and here’s how I can leverage my resources,” said Kent.

Bruce Skinner, Southeast’s Associate Vice President for Student Life, said the pantry serves an average of 50 to 60 people per month. Kent’s One Meal a Week program is one of two main donation sources for the pantry.

“I mean that’s why I do this job is to get to see students like that put their belief and their principles in action, and so I’m very proud of what him and his friends have done for our pantry,” said Skinner.

Kent said it feels good to see other students give back.

“I got more help on this campus than you can even imagine," he said.

Kent said another organization will take over once he graduates from Southeast in May. He also provides donations to local food pantries in southeast Missouri.

So far, Kent said he has collected $12,000 worth of food donations.

To find out when to donate, check the One Meal a Week Facebook page for more information.

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