FOR RELEASE: Oct. 12, 2012EDITORIAL CONTACT: Gina Logue, 615-898-5081, firstname.lastname@example.org
MURFREESBORO — With Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah within sight, the demands on the new MTSU Student Food Pantry could be challenging.
If collections to date are any indication, however, the campus community is more than willing to fill the need.
The pantry is tucked away inside closet space within the University College Advising Center in the McFarland Building and contains some 800 pounds of food already.
“Any active currently enrolled student can come and access the food pantry,” says Becca Seul, a University College advisor who manages the pantry. “They don’t have to be referred to us. They can just come on over.”
That said, Seul is focusing on homeless students and students who have just emerged from foster care, especially those who have just emerged from foster care and lack the necessary support to make it on their own.
Seul verifies homeless students for the Office of Financial Aid. She says she has documented 67 homeless students and 74 foster care students since March 2011.
“If a student is at that point where they’re actually going to come and say, ‘Hey, I need help,’ then that need has, typically, gotten pretty far,” Seul says.
The pantry shelves contain everything from green beans to microwave popcorn. Seul recommends that donors focus on nonperishable items that college students will actually want to consume.
“We do have a lot of Ramen and a lot of ravioli,” she notes. “The easy-open cans are better because (the students) may or may not have a can opener.”
Everything donated in bulk is broken up into individual components so as many students as possible may benefit.
While Seul holds the keys to the canned cabbage and cranberry juice, the pantry is a partnership between the University College Advising Center and the Student Government Association. The SGA will handle marketing, launch food drives and reach out to students who may be reluctant to come forward.
The idea originated last fall, but it did not come to fruition until spring 2012. The SGA had passed legislation last spring to create a pantry, but it did not have a physical location. The partnership seemed ideal.
The Student Food Pantry also has contacts with Greenhouse Ministries; the Murfreesboro Housing Authority; Lambda Sigma, the freshman honors fraternity; and Generation Next, the living-learning community of first-generation college students living in Cummings Hall.
Even the James E. Walker Library is providing food for thought. Through Oct. 31, library patrons may place their food donations in a large box positioned in the first-floor atrium as part of the “Stock the Student Food Pantry” drive.
“It’s not a grocery store,” Seul emphasizes. “It’s for students struggling to find a meal.”
The MTSU Student Food Pantry is accessible from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. It will be closed Thursday, Nov. 22, and Friday, Nov. 23 for Thanksgiving, reopening Monday, Nov. 26. The pantry also will be closed Monday, Dec. 24, through Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013.
7a) University College adviser Becca Seul and Student Government Association President Coby Sherlock stand in front of the MTSU Student Food Pantry in the McFarland Building.
1a) The MTSU Student Food Pantry already has reaped a bountiful harvest.
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