Food Pantry reopens
Jaylen Carr– Sports Editor
The universities food pantry now has multiple departments donating food items to the pantry because of the high student demand.
Michael Lawton, a graduate intern, said, “we have 19 departments participating in total, and the donations have allowed the pantry to have a steady influx of items.”
Lawton said the departments consist of academic departments like English and history but also get donations from other departments such as the Office of Student Involvement and Conference Services.
Lawton said they contacted different departments, and the departments selected a popular item in the pantry from a list provided by the pantry.
“After selecting the item, we coordinate three dates in which we pick up from the food pantry,” Lawton said. “So essentially, these departments that agreeing to partner with us are donating to us three times in the semester, which is a big help to us.”
The help from the departments is immense because the pantry knows that the products they donate are popular among the students.
“It’s nice to have it is coming from the eternal source of Southern,” Lawton said.
Last semester the food pantry had over 300 students use the pantry assistance for over 1,100 grocery bags, Lawton said.
“While I do not have this semester’s data yet, I can say that we have seen a greater number of students utilizing the pantry, so I expect both these numbers to rise,” Lawton said.
The demand for the pantry has always been there, Lawton said. “COVID made a lot of chaos in a lot of people’s lives whether they lost their job, housing secure or food insecure.”
Lawton said the recent increase in students attending the food pantry was because of the awareness about the resource.
“The main mission for my job this year is to get the word about this pantry,” Lawton said. “The students who use the pantry have been a really great means of doing this.”
Sociology major Sedona Worth, a junior, said she got involved in helping at the food pantry because she wants to work for a non-profit organization that helps with food insecurity.
Worth said she had hosted gatherings at residential halls to help spread the word about the pantry.
“It’s open dialogue,” Worth said. “There are definitely a lot of people who say that they did not know that the pantry existed.”
Worth said she puts flyers all around campus. “The students ask us questions about the pantry.”
Once a student comes back to the pantry, they always bring a friend with them, Lawton said.
Lawton’s role is to ensure the pantry operations run smoothly and learn any additional support students need.
He is also “Working with students in crisis and finding sources of food to supply our pantry,” Lawton said.
Psychology major Jasmine Patrick, a junior, said she helps out the food pantry to ensure students know that a service like this is here to support them and to ensure they understand what items are in the pantry.
“I greet people and help explain the rules of the pantry,” Patrick said. “I also direct them to Michael, my supervisor, if they need any more resources like SNAP benefits, financial aid, and clothes.”
Patrick said she is working with the pantry because of the work-study opportunity it provided.
“I plan to continue a master’s in social work because it’s a helping people profession,” said Patrick.
Lawton said that whether a student is a commuter or lives on campus, full-time or part-time, the food pantry is open to them.
Lawton said that when students enter the pantry, they swipe their Hoot Loot card or manually put in their student ID number.
There are item limits posted throughout the store to help guide the students on how much they can take, Lawton said.
Lawton said that a food pantry is an excellent student service because it fills an essential need.
“I want everyone to feel comfortable enough to come to the food pantry and use this resource,” Lawton said.