The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

A look into FUEL NKU’s impact on campus, future plans

June 22, 2022

FUEL NKU–a service that provides free food and basic necessities to any student with an ALL CARD–was visited 11,801 times, totaling 90,963 pounds of food distributed according to statistics provided by Program Coordinator Nick Bliven. 

In the spring semester of 2022, FUEL NKU supported 1,083 students through their service.

With the health and economic challenges faced by students in the 2021-2022 school year, FUEL NKU embraced the opportunity to help alleviate the strains of college life by promoting food security and education.

Despite nationally inflated prices of goods and supply limitations making excess products more difficult for FUEL NKU to offer, the program continues to exceed demand for students, according to Bliven. 

“FUEL takes a lot of stress off,” NKU student Dylan Perez said. “I can cut my grocery bill in half with FUEL sometimes.” 

Program Coordinator Nick Bliven explained that expanding outreach was a key goal for the program when the NKU community returned to campus in the fall of 2021.

“Many students have shared they only found out about FUEL NKU from the info table in Steely Library or noticed the kiosk in the Fine Arts Center and wanted to learn more about our main pantry services,” Bliven said. 

Getting students to establish contact with the program is paramount in the service being utilized by those who could benefit. 

We began hosting more informational tabling events throughout the semester. We also have established partnerships across campus to host mini grab-and-go kiosks that offer a few food options to meet students where they are,” Bliven said.

FUEL NKU has also taken steps to make their inventory more diverse and encompassing by adding a dietary accommodations section that includes gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options for students. They also dawned an International Market section that offers ethnically diverse food options. 

“All students should have access to a variety of food options whether that be shelf stable or fresh items,” FUEL NKU international student liaison Divya Srinivas said. 

Looking forward, FUEL NKU hopes to continue improving their service to the NKU community, with an uptick in sustainability efforts to come. 

“FUEL NKU often receives donations of spoiled food that we are unable to distribute. I plan to implement a biweekly composting pickup service to combat this food waste,” Bliven said. 

FUEL NKU also hopes to expand the International Market’s offerings and their Kosher and Halal options in the future, according to Bliven. 

Through the summer, FUEL NKU is continuing to serve students, welcoming an average of 69 people a day and providing an average 7.35 pounds per person, according to statistics provided by Bliven. 

FUEL NKU’s summer hours can be found here.

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