As thousands of students depart MTSU for summer vacation or post-graduate careers, the work of the university’s Student Food Pantry remains as important as ever.
Founder and coordinator Becca Seul is emphasizing the pantry’s need for donations throughout the summer months, especially now that it’s relocated to the second floor of the new Student Services and Admissions Center, also known as the MT One Stop.
“We have had students come in once a month and bring in friends of theirs that they know are hurting for a meal,” Seul says.
While donations are most plentiful around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, Seul notes that MTSU students need help year-round. The pantry can’t afford a drought even when the weather heats up.
The good news is that the pantry has much more room for items since its move from the McFarland Building.
“We have an office space that has been designated just for the pantry, where before we were literally in a closet in McFarland,” Seul says.
In the 18 months the pantry has been open, it’s logged more than 600 visits. Seul keeps track of homeless and foster care students on campus, but they’re not the only ones who need food.
“The number of students that know about us is continually growing,” Seul explains. “We have to increase the donations because they have slowed down quite a bit.”
Some students don’t show financial need on paper, but they might be between paychecks at their jobs, or their meal plans may have run out.
Seul recalls a student who spent the end-of-the-year holiday break in a dormitory with nothing to eat. With no employees on campus except the police, an officer met the student at the pantry and let him in.
“During those holiday months when we’re not here, we need to make sure that they’re taken care of,” Seul adds.
The Student Food Pantry now has an MTSU Foundation account, which allows Seul to stock up on items available in bulk at less cost. In the first six or seven months of monetary donations, the pantry welcomed about $1,000 from the campus and community.
Currently, the MTSU Student Food Pantry has about 5,000 pounds of nonperishable food items on hand. The pantry currently needs to restock supplies of bottled water, crackers, rice, peanut butter, fruit cups, canned tuna, popcorn, oatmeal, granola bars and shelf-stable milk.
To donate food or money or for more information about MTSU’s Student Food Pantry, contact Seul at 615-494-8910 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the web site at www.mtsu.edu/foodpantry.
— Gina K. Logue (Gina.Logue@mtsu.edu)