- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 10, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has marked the opening of a food pantry inside the campus’ student union.

The Huskers Helping Huskers Pantry Plus will offer food and hygiene items to enrolled students, KETV (https://bit.ly/2idVP47 ) reported.

University officials were prompted to open the pantry by a survey that showed three out of every 10 UNL students reported occasionally worrying about having enough food. About 10 percent said they rarely or never could afford a balanced meal.

“I myself am on a very tight budget because textbooks and other things go first,” UNL student Luisa Valencia said.

UNL Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Juan Franco spoke Monday at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the pantry.

“The good thing is we are opening this program for our students,” Franco said. “The sad thing is that we have to open this program for our students.”

The program will also provide resources to help students with other issues like homelessness, because hunger is only one of the symptoms of poverty.

“We’re guessing that 2 percent of our population also have shelter-insecurity issues,” pantry coordinator Megan Scherling said.

More than 400 universities and colleges across the country have opened similar pantries. The open-shelf pantry in the campus’ Lutheran Center will also continue operations.

“Student poverty is real. It affects a lot of people here at UNL,” Lutheran Center’s Rev. Adam White said. “This is exciting to the extent that this is (a) university that cares about these things and is stepping up forward to address them.”

Donations can be made to the new pantry on the Huskers Helping Huskers Pantry Plus Facebook page or on pantry.unl.edu.

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Information from: KETV-TV, https://www.ketv.com

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