MURFREESBORO — MTSU’s upcoming homecoming can be an opportunity for the Student Food Pantry to reap a deeply needed fall harvest.
The Conference USA Food Drive Challenge will begin Friday, Oct. 14, and extend through Thursday, Oct. 20, in a battle to top the league’s 14 other member schools in gathering food for students who can’t afford the nourishment they need.
“We’ve raised over 10,000 pounds of food every year, but we are trying to … see if we can beat some of the bigger schools,” said Becca Seul, associate director of the MT One Stop and coordinator of the MTSU pantry.
Donations of nonperishable food items can be dropped off at MTSU’s volleyball game against the University of Texas at San Antonio, which begins at 7 p.m. Oct. 14 at Alumni Memorial Gym, or at the Blue Raiders’ football game against Western Kentucky University, which starts at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, at Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium.
In addition, donations will be collected at the Student-Athlete Enhancement Center (SAEC), which is adjacent to the ticket office at the south end of Floyd Stadium, or at the pantry, which is located in the MT One Stop. All donations will be divided between the pantry and Greenhouse Ministries, which operates a local food bank.
A printable campus parking map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap. Off-campus visitors dropping off items during business hours at the SAEC or One Stop should obtain a special one-day permit from MTSU’s Office of Parking and Transportation at http://www.mtsu.edu/parking/visit.php.
Last year, the University of Texas at El Paso won the challenge by collecting 26,000 pounds of food. The University of North Texas was second with nearly 17,000 pounds, and MTSU placed third with almost 11,000 pounds.
Seul said there have been about 2,300 visits to the pantry since it opened in 2012. She said MTSU’s need is ongoing and visits to the pantry accelerate just prior to Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“We were averaging right at 300 to 400 (visits) a semester, and I’d venture a guess that we’re at 100 already this semester,” said Seul.
The pantry also accepts monetary donations with which Seul can purchase food. The items purchased with money contributed during the challenge will count toward MTSU’s total.
“We take any money that’s donated and go purchase what’s needed for the pantry and put that into the overall weight of the donations,” Seul said.
The most popular items at the pantry are convenience foods that require little or no preparation, including canned chili, tuna fish, ramen noodles, macaroni and cheese and beverages.
For more information, contact Seul at 615-494-8910 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to the pantry’s website at www.mtsu.edu/foodpantry.