As the director of Missouri Southern’s Lion Co-op food pantry, Dr. Andrea Cullers sees firsthand the need for supplemental nutrition in college students.

“We’re seeing chronic food insecurity where every week or month students are needing assistance. There’s very little research involving food insecurity in college students,” said Cullers. “We wanted to look into how to best connect them with benefits they may not know about.”

As a member of the Missouri Council for Activity and Nutrition Food Systems workgroup, Cullers collaborated with members, including UMKC’s Dr. Matthew Chrisman, to earn a nearly $25,000 grant to fund research into food insecurity.

The $24,695 Fahs-Beck Foundation grant will help fund their research in food insecurity in Missouri college students, as well as their access to and knowledge of the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

SNAP is the largest federal nutrition assistance program and provides benefits to eligible low-income individuals and families at grocery stores and farmers markets. Eighteen percent of MSSU students are eligible for SNAP, while nationally less than 1% who are eligible access those benefits.

Those eligible for SNAP benefits also automatically have access to the Double Up Food Bucks Program, which matches SNAP dollars. The matching program allows participants to receive twice the amount of fruits and vegetables; local markets such as the Webb City Farmers Market and Joplin’s Empire Market participate in the program.

“Malnutrition isn’t just not enough calories, it’s inadequate nutrition. Someone can be getting plenty of calories, but if they’re not nutritious calories they can be malnourished. SNAP can help with that,” said Cullers. “We can’t perform at our full potential at school or in our life if we’re hungry or not getting the nutrition that we need.”

To donate to the Lion Co-Op, email High-demand items include:

  • Microwaveable entrees, such as macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles and soups
  • Snack foods, such as granola bars, peanut butter and crackers
  • Other food items, such as instant mashed potatoes or jam
  • Personal hygiene items, such as toilet paper, deodorant and body soap

Donations can also be made through the MSSU Foundation. Call 417-625-3104 for details.