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A Day in the Life of A Nursing Student Fighting Hunger in Rural Arkansas

This blog is written by:

Cassie Jankowski Jones: Cassie is a registered nurse, full-time student at Arkansas State University, and intern at the Food Bank of North Central Arkansas. She lives in the heart of the Ozarks with her husband and four cats. Her passions include student basic needs, disability justice, mental health accessibility, and hiking.

This story is the latest installment of our “A Day in the Life” series where we spotlight college students from all over the country who are taking action and leading the anti-hunger movement in their campus communities. 


The first thing I do when I get to the food bank is pop my headphones on. Sometimes it’s the Black Keys, other times it’s Noah Khan. I turn it up and settle in for the morning.

It’s always been hard for me to answer the question “What do you do?”- to be honest with y’all, it’s a bit of everything. On the weekends, I’m a registered nurse at one of the largest rural hospitals in Arkansas. During the week, I’m a full-time student, a wife, a food bank intern, and a 20-year-old trying to tackle the obstacles rural students face.
 
I spend an hour writing emails and reports of last week’s work. Half of my food bank hours are remote. The other half, I throw on a thrifted suit and drive to the office. About once a month, I drive six hours to Little Rock and back to help at local hunger relief organizations. One thing about living in the sticks: you get used to driving. 

I write meeting notes for the Anti-Hunger Task Force (AHT) I help run at my local community college, Arkansas State University – Mountain Home (ASUMH). Our beautiful rag-tag group works on everything from stocking the food pantry to doing research. After that, I turn to other projects. Right now, I’m writing an updated campus pantry toolkit for ASUMH. I’m also working on the capstone for my B.S. in Nursing about improving our hospital patient screening process for food insecurity. There is always more work to be done.
 
Finally, I drive around ASUMH and make sure all the mobile pantries are stocked and stay on campus to help serve free meals. We serve about 30 nursing, EMT, and phlebotomy night-class students. Sometimes, that’s the only hot meal they will eat that day or even week. Many of them have to drive over an hour to get home. At the end of the day, we all sit down together over a hot meal in our make-shift dining room in the middle of a nursing lab. We talk about what it’s like to try to save people’s lives, to struggle and do our best. We talk about hiking on the weekends and all the things that make us similar. After everyone is gone and the leftovers have been taken, I walk out into the humid night air and am met with a symphony of cicadas and whippoorwills.


Food insecurity on a college campus can be experienced in different ways. To get involved and learn more about shaping your program to best fit your student needs visit become a campus partner. If you’re a student like Cassie, join the Hunger Free movement in your state!

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