Wichita Falls rancher, businessman
and game warden Pat Canan is a well-known figure in the Fain Fine Arts Center
at Midwestern State University. He enjoys taking ceramics classes and has
supported the continuing education program as a student and benefactor for
years. More recently, Canan’s efforts have been directed toward helping
students personally, supporting them in an area that is emerging as a major
issue for college students throughout the country: food security.
“We became aware of the
growing challenges some college students face with food insecurity,” he said.
“As many students and their respective families try to deal with the expenses
related to pursuing a college education, there simply is not a lot of money
left for meals and food needs.”
In response, Mr. and Mrs. Canan
established an innovative scholarship program at MSU Texas that will help
ensure that all students can access regular healthy meals, regardless of their
financial situation. The Canans are encouraging others to support this effort
to meet essential, but often hidden, needs of today’s students who often take
on debt or work long hours to finance their educations.
“The Canan Food Security
Scholarship is consistent with MSU Texas’ commitment to supporting students so
that they can be successful and complete their degree programs,” President
Suzanne Shipley said. “The Canans have identified an often overlooked, but
crucial, component of academic success. This program has the potential to be an
inspiring model for campuses across the country. We know how significant it is
already for many of our students.”
As a professor, Steve Hilton
sees the effects of food insecurity on students, whether it involves students
choosing junk food from a vending machine for lunch because it’s inexpensive,
to drops in energy, attentiveness or overall health of individuals who are not
eating well. “Hungry kids can’t concentrate in class,” said Hilton. One student
confided in Hilton that he had a $45 a month budget for food. Hilton has worked
with the Canans and others across campus to develop a program that will work
for students and make the best use of resources.
The Canan contribution jump
started the scholarship effort, and Hilton notes that others on campus have
taken a big role. Chartwells, the campus dining and catering service,
contributes meals at cost. Residence Life has integrated the program into
existing systems. The administration has supported the Food Security
Interested students complete a
simple application and submit a short statement of need. Those eligible receive
funds on a standard campus meal card to provide at least one nutritious meal
each day throughout the semester. Use of the benefit is invisible to others,
insuring the privacy and dignity of those seeking assistance. The university has
also taken steps to insure a quick-turnaround of requests.
The scholarship program
enhances other efforts on campus. Earlier this year Mustangs Pantry, an
emergency food pantry, opened at MSU Texas. Keith Lamb, Vice President for
Student Affairs, said, “Increasing levels of food insecurity among college
students present a significant barrier to achieving the dream of an education.
We at MSU Texas are trying to be more intentional in addressing this
Hilton is also
professor-in-residence in Legacy Hall, the university’s largest residence hall
with almost 500 students. While this role is designed to bring academics into
the living space, it also gives him a closer connection to students and their
challenges, and provides opportunities to educate students in life skills.
Hilton recently sponsored a program in which a local chef involved 15 students
in purchasing food for and preparing a healthy meal for 18 people for only $35.
While his overall commitment
to students motivates Hilton to support them in a variety of ways, his own
experience comes into play as well. “This was me 30 years ago,” he said,
referencing the beneficiaries of the scholarships. Like so many students, Hilton
experienced his own challenges accessing healthy food while he was devoting
most of his resources to tuition, books and rent.
Thanks to the Canans, Hilton
and others, today’s MSU Texas students have a new resource to support their
health and academic success: The Canan Food Security Scholarship program.
Those who wish to support The Canan Food Security Scholarship at MSU
Texas should go online to the Annual Fund web page or
contact University Advancement and Public Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students wishing to apply, visit Mustangs