Rebecca Leighton Wins University Award for Starting Food Pantry for Students

									Sarah Howard |
																			May 1, 2017
MPH student Rebecca Leighton
MPH student Rebecca Leighton

Public Health Nutrition MPH student Rebecca Leighton was honored with the University of Minnesota President’s Student Leadership and Service Award for starting the Nutritious U Food Pantry.

Seventeen percent of University of Minnesota undergraduate students worry that their food will run out before they have money to buy more. In response, Leighton founded Nutritious U, a student group dedicated to providing fresh, healthy, and accessible food to U of M students. The group raised funds to organize two, three-day pilot food pantries in spring 2017. Nearly 500 students showed up the first day of the February pilot. The second pilot, held in March, served more than 900 students and distributed more than 6,000 pounds of food.

“The University of Minnesota is a food desert and not many students have access to cars to get affordable food off campus,” says Leighton. “I wanted to provide something that would make it easier for students to access nutritious food to help reduce some of their stresses so they can reach their full academic potential while promoting health and well being.”

The pilot was so successful, the U of M has chosen to open a permanent pantry in fall 2017.

The award aims to recognize outstanding student leaders who contribute to the sense of community on campus.

“This recognition, along with the feedback I’ve received from students who have benefited from Nutritious U, is extremely rewarding and is the reason I am driven to continue this work,” says Leighton. “I am grateful for the opportunity to practice what I learn in the classroom and create something meaningful.”

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