Forget your lunch? Need a Snack? These are the sayings on the signs promoting the new UGA Food Pantry. This philanthropy is designed to operate as a place on campus where students and faculty in need of groceries can go. This is the first year the pantry has been open. About two-dozen student organizations provide volunteers so that it can function each week as well as contribute donations for the pantry. The overall operation of the pantry is managed by members from student organizations. “It is truly a ‘dawgs helping dawgs’ organization. Other campuses have food pantries, but we are the first that keeps it stocked with student donations,” says Kerrie Grunnet, a member of the committee.
The pantry was a result of collaboration between a group of students and the administration. They found that the current economic situation was greatly affecting many people of the UGA population and causing them to cut back on expenses. Knowing that it can be especially difficult for students and staff to reach out for help in the Athens community, they wanted to provide an alternative way to offer help. “We feel fortunate that we are able to provide assistance right on campus,” says Kerrie. Volunteers see around 15 people a day when the pantry is open. Anyone with a valid UGA ID has access. Each person who visits is given a bag and is free to fill it with whatever best suits their needs at the time. Canned goods, pasta products, peanut butter, oatmeal, baking products and snack type food such as granola bars are things that can generally be found within the pantry.
While the pantry is still building its reputation on campus, volunteers are very proud of what it has to offer. “I enjoy volunteering at the Student Food Pantry because it serves a community that you would typically think doesn’t need assistance. Many students here are far away from home and do not have access to healthy food options without the on-campus food pantry,” raved Katie Webb, a frequent food pantry volunteer. Another volunteer Paige Purinton also had positive thoughts toward the pantry, “It was a simple process, and really cool. I liked that it helps people on campus, who may not have the means to have adequate meals.”
If an outsider saw the pantry, they may think it was just a very small room with several shelves stocked with can goods, however for the culture of the University of Georgia this is one of the truest acts of students reaching out and helping other students. Interested in donating? Peanut butter, any pasta products, canned soups and snack foods are the highest demand right now. Donations can be dropped off during regular hours, which are 10 A.M. to 2 P.M. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 208 Memorial Hall. They can also be dropped off to 153 in the Tate Building. For monetary donations, checks can be made out to UGA student food pantry.
“I didn’t believe that it was as easy as it sounds until I actually stopped by one day to check things out. I think it is cool that UGA now has a place where really anyone can get food without being in a dire situation,” said Quint Wilson, a student on campus. However, don’t just take our word for it, stop by and check it out for yourself!