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The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

ZipAssist Holds Community Resource Fair Tuesday, September 19 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the SU 2nd Floor

Resources, Swag and a Pop-Up Pantry, Oh My!
L to R: Steve Horner, Heather Barhorst, Haley Kuczynski, Shawna Blankenship, Brynley Harris, Jessie Redwine at the Pop-Up Pantry. Image Courtesy of ZipAssist.

The third annual Community Resource Fair is here to support students on Tuesday, September 19, from 11 12:30 p.m. on the second floor of The Jean Hower Taber Student Union.

The Resource Fair and Zippy Cookies

Each year in the fall semester, ZipAssist invites a dozen or more off-campus community partners to share resources that can benefit UA students struggling with many kinds of challenges.

The community partners will have resources, giveaways, and open hearts ready to meet Zips of all walks of life and share valuable information.

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Flyer courtesy of ZipAssist.

During the resource fair, students can access family services, mental health services, financial resources and recreation and wellness-based resources. ZipAssist invites every student on campus to bring their open mind and enjoy a Zippy cookie as they learn.

According to Heather A. Barhorst, Coordinator of the Campus Cupboard, attendees in the past were surprised to not only walk away with current info for themselves, but also resources valuable to their loved ones, friends and co-workers.

“The Community Resource Fair provides a space for access to off-campus resources and an opportunity to meet community partners,” Barhorst said.

Because the fair features off-campus resources, which serve the community at large, they can help Zips overcome challenges both personal and throughout their network.

Planning the fair is an important part of ensuring that students on campus experience both educational and personal success.

“One of the many goals of the ZipAssist Office is to remove any barrier in access to these resources,” Barhorst said.

Zips who aren’t available during the 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. time frame can stop by the Simmons Hall lobby for several days following the event to browse and collect flyers and brochures from the community partners in attendance.

That said, the only way to get the Zippy cookies is during the live fair, so if you can make it, you might be helping yourself, or you might be preparing to help friends you haven’t even made yet.

If you need or want help, you aren’t alone.

As September is Suicide Awareness Month, the resource fair is timely in offering access to services that support the mental and physical well-being of students. If you are worried about feeling singled out because you’re attending the resource fair, you should know that you are NOT alone.

It’s well known that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased mental and physical health challenges for college students, but what may come as a surprise is that these difficulties existed prior to the pandemic as well.

According to a scholarly article published by the National Institutes of Health, “in 2019, prior to COVID-19, 49.5% of college students reported loneliness, 35.7% depression, 22.1% depression that impaired academic performance, 31% anxiety, and 20.9% past 2-week suicidal ideation.”

According to about 36% of college students were diagnosed with a new or continuing generalized anxiety disorder in 2022-2023.

Did you know that food insecurity, defined as economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, impacts almost every aspect of a college students’ experience.

According to a report by the National Institutes of Health, food insecurity impacts nearly 41% of student nationwide at some point during their college career. According to the same report, food insecurity has been linked to an increased number of poor mental health days per month, decreases in quality of sleep, and poor overall physical health.

A recent study cited in the same report found that college students experiencing food insecurity have 42% lower odds of graduating than students with readily available sources of food.

If you or someone you know is experiencing food insecurity, the Community Resource Fair is a great first stop. However, every 2nd and 4th Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Akron Canton Food Bank and Salvation Army partner up with UA’s Campus Cupboard to distribute food at the “Pop-Up Pantry.”Flyer – Community Resource Fair – Fall 23

Visiting the Pop-Up Pantry

In researching the fair, this reporter personally ventured over to the “Pop-Up Pantry” in Lot 24, across from Simmons Hall on the corner of South College Street and East Buchtel Avenue. At the pantry were volunteers and employees passionate about distributing fresh, frozen, and canned foods not only to college students, but local Akron residents as well.

There is no specific requirement to receive food from the Pop-Up Pantry, and students should know that they are in good company if they feel the need to stop by for food, given the 41% statistics above. 

At the Pop-Up Pantry visitors will find a big truck of food, where they may take what they need. Local families in the community can feel safe and welcome at the pantry.

The smiles on the faces of both recipients and distributors observed by this reporter make it clear that all involved feel comfortable and enriched by participating in the Pop-Up Pantry.

For more information on how to get help, or on how to refer yourself to ZipAssist or the UA Cares Team, please visit:

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Shananne Lewis
Shananne Lewis, Online Editor
Shananne Lewis started working as an Educational Specialist with the Education Talent Search at Buckingham in June of 2023. For twenty-five years she has taught dance in the Akron and Canton areas because she received her degree in Dance from The University of Akron. She has two children at The University of Akron. In her spare time, she loves to read about Dance History and is the administrator for Avid Dancer Book Club on Facebook, with a million members. Fun fact: Shananne Lewis lived in both Sisler-McFawn Hall and Spanton her Freshman and Sophomore years here at Akron. For ten years she had a birthday party business, frequently dressing up as a princess or pirate and invading their homes to teach a fun dance routine.
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