One positive aspect of MTSU’s fall 2021 return to the on-campus experience is that the Student Food Pantry is much better stocked now.
“In explaining how well-stocked we are, it is much easier to see in person, of course, because both the food pantry and overflow office are packed full,” said Danielle Rochelle, coordinator of outreach and support programs for the MT One Stop.
“We currently have close to 3,000 canned vegetables, with several hundred Rice Krispies treats, fruit snacks and oatmeal,” she said. “I have had to get creative with storage … to make sure everything fits in neatly.”
However, now that students are back on campus following a period of COVID-19 precautions, requests for food also are up.
“Now that students are back on campus, we are seeing an increase in food pantry requests, and we are able to get more food out to students,” Rochelle said.
Rochelle, who supervises the pantry, says she received 74 requests for food through Sept. 22 compared to 63 requests by the same time last year.
“I believe the need has remained the same, but it feels as if students are more actively seeking out the pantry as a resource,” Rochelle said.
“We have had more first-time ‘visitors’ this year versus our return ‘visits.’ The repeat visits, which we count as three or more trips to the pantry, make up only 29 percent of the requests.”
Especially as winter and the Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah seasons approach, she said the emphasis on keeping the pantry shelves filled never wanes.
“(We need) continued awareness about the food pantry so students know it is available for them whenever the need arises,” Rochelle said.
Rochelle said the pantry takes requests for food as long as the university is open and the pantry itself is open. In addition to food, the pantry provides other items college students might need on a regular basis.
“We also keep nonfood items, such as paper towels, toilet paper and laundry detergent, stocked, in addition to personal hygiene items and meal vouchers,” Rochelle said.
The pantry, located on the second floor of the Student Services and Admissions Center in the MT One Stop offices in Room 210, was started in fall 2012 and joined the College and University Food Bank Alliance in March 2017. It is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday except on university holidays.
For more information, go to www.mtsu.edu/foodpantry or contact Rochelle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Gina K. Logue (email@example.com)