BGSU grad inspired to work in nonprofits, public health following internship at food pantry

Bowling Green State University alumni aspire to apply the lessons learned during their internships to careers that help others.

Madelyn Huzyak ’22 did an internship at the Falcon Food Pantry on campus. This was done as part of the final project for Honors College. This experience was very formative and I now want to work in the non-profit or public health field.

“Working in the food pantry has been incredibly rewarding. It has definitely influenced my career plans and opened doors to new paths. My experience and what I learned about food insecurity We want to use all of our resources to help create public good in more communities.”

Huszak, who graduated this fall with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, began his internship at the Falcon Food Pantry during the spring semester, shortly after it opened in January.

understanding food insecurity

A large part of her capstone project involved researching food insecurity on college campuses to understand the need for pantries to be met. She also helped with day-to-day operations in the pantry, including unloading food donation deliveries, stocking shelves, and welcoming guests.

“From my research, I’ve found that students tend to spend as much money as possible on school, which reduces their ability to buy food,” she said. I’m paying for books instead of groceries, which is hard to imagine.I didn’t realize that food insecurity was prevalent in college until I started this project.”

Shannon Orr, head of the food pantry and professor of political science at BGSU, explained that food insecurity on college campuses isn’t apparent, it exists.

“Just one day in the food pantry is enough to hear stories of students going through unexpectedly difficult times, parents losing their jobs, and struggling with rising food and gas prices.” says Orr.

Huzyak, from Wadsworth, Ohio, said interest grew throughout the semester after seeing the impact the food pantry had on students. As a result, Huzyak applied for an Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Center grant to conduct additional research and create teaching materials for the Falcon Food Pantry over the summer.

As part of her CURS grant project, Huzyak collected pantry customer demographics and evaluated the data. She found that the largest percentage of people using pantries are international and graduate students, although these groups make up a small percentage of the university’s overall student population.

“We have an unconscious mindset that if we can afford college, of course we can buy food. Especially when something happens in your life that creates a financial burden.”

deep experience

In addition to her research, Huzyak produced several educational materials, including information cards, promoting foods that patrons would not normally choose.

The Falcon Food Pantry is your customer’s pantry of choice. According to Orr, it’s common for people to ignore certain foods because they’re unfamiliar or unsure about how to prepare them.

To solve that problem, Huzyak created a laminated card with nutritional information and recipe ideas for the five least-chosen foods. A card with a QR code that also linked to a website with more information was hung on the shelf under the corresponding food item.

Huzyak said about 20 cans left the shelves within two weeks of posting the information card next to the canned chicken.

“We have no way of knowing if the card directly contributed to the growing interest in canned chicken, but we think it has benefits in providing people with nutritional information and recipe ideas for foods available in the pantry. ‘ she said.

In addition to information cards, Huzyak created leaflets on reducing food waste, tips for saving money at the grocery store, and sustainable grocery shopping. Huzyak said his internship at the Food Pantry was a defining moment in his undergraduate experience at BGSU.

“I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity,” said Huszak. “The food pantry internship was a key part of my undergraduate experience. This will be one of the biggest things I think he will do while at BGSU.”

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