It’s been nearly a month since the Bear Necessities Pantry opened on the campus of Shawnee State University (SSU), according to Student Life Director, Tiffany Hartman, the response has been overwhelming.
“We’ve received an incredible amount of support from the community,” explained Hartman. “Kroger has donated quite a few items to us, I know we have a couple churches right now who are doing drives for us, and we’ve had donations from faculty. We’ve had a lot of luck with people donating, and we’re so lucky that so many people have been supporting us.”
According to Feeding America’s 2014 Hunger in America report, roughly 10 percent of its 46.5 million adult clients are college students. This amounts to two million full-time college students. Of those surveyed by the emergency food services network, roughly 30.5 percent of students reported that they were forced to choose between food and educational expenses at some point within the year.
“We’ve had students come in and say, ‘you know, I’m just out of money. I don’t get paid for another week, and I’m buying gas to get here, and I don’t have money for food.’ We’ve seen quite a few students, I think it was a little more than we were expecting at first, but I’m glad that we’re here to help them,” said Hartman.
The mission of the pantry is simple, is to serve students who are experiencing food insecurity or hunger. In addition to food staples, they also provide personal care items and basic school supplies.
Any Shawnee State student, with a valid SSU ID, is eligible to receive non-perishable goods by visiting the Bear Necessities Pantry in the University Center Room 221.
“We have abut 40 students who visit the pantry on a regular basis, and we notice that a lot of things that people are interested in having are the single-serve microwavable meals,” said Hartman. “We’ve found those to be the one of the most popular items, because they can just take them right downstairs and microwave them and they fit easily into a bag or backpack if they want to take them home. We are in need of donations of silverware, the prepackaged kinds like you’d get in the drive-thru, with the utensils and the napkin. That way they have everything they need. We also realized that we’re in need of drinks, we provide a lot of food items, but not enough drinks.”
The Bear Necessities Pantry operates entirely on donations, accepting non-perishable goods as well as monetary donations. Monetary donations can be in the form of cash or check made payable to Shawnee State University, with Bear Necessities Pantry in the memo line. Donations will be accepted in University Center Room, 221 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
With colder weather approaching, Hartman also encourages the community to donate hats, scarves and gloves.
“Right now we don’t have the space for coats, but we have started to put out some scarves and some knitted hats,” she explained.
If you would like to make a contribution here are some suggestions on what to donate.
Pasta Sides, Mashed Potatoes, Boxed Cereal, Oatmeal, Fruit Snacks, Fruit Cups, Microwave Popcorn, Canned Vegetables, Canned Fruit, Canned Pasta, Macaroni & Cheese, Soups, Ramen Noodles, Pop Tarts, Chili, Canned Beans, Instant Rice, Canned Tuna, Crackers, Granola Bars, Pudding Cups, Muffins
Tooth Brushes, Toothpaste, Deodorant, Feminine Hygiene Products, Bath Soap, Shampoo/Conditioner, Lotion, Toilet Paper, Hats, Gloves, Scarves.
Bottled Water, Juice Drinks, Sports Drinks.
“We’re also looking to network with other pantries,” said Hartman. “That’s something that we’re trying to promote. We want to let the students know of other pantries and other services that provide meals. If anyone wants to advertise their services, we’ll make them available to the students who come.”
For more information about the Bear Necessities Pantry, or to find out how to make a contribution please contact the Office of Student Life at 740-351-3392.
Reach Ciara Conley at 740-981-6977, Facebook “Ciara Conley - Daily Times,” and Twitter @PDT_Ciara