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Food pantry for students opens October 2

ISSUED: 1 October 2019
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University is addressing food insecurity among its students by opening a food pantry in Boteler Hall where the Ram Mart convenience store used to be on West Campus. Shepherd is partnering with the Mountaineer Food Bank, which will provide the university with an inventory list of both free and for-cost items that can be selected and delivered the second Tuesday of each month. The Ram Pantry will be open Wednesdays 1-3 p.m. and Fridays 5-7 p.m. starting October 2.

“The purpose of the pantry is to help improve food insecurity on campus or, ideally, eliminate it completely and to improve the well-being of our students so they can focus on why they’re here—to get an education,” said Dr. Jennifer Flora, the Wellness Center director who is spearheading efforts to open the pantry.

The Ram Pantry, which will be managed by Angel Petty, a college student development and administration graduate student from Baltimore, will offer nonperishable food and some perishable food, such as milk, cheese, and butter. It will be open to on-campus, commuter, non-degree seeking, and dual enrollment students with the 15 or fewer meal plan or no meal plan, and faculty members who have a waiver. Flora says it will eventually offer personal hygiene products available to all students. Those who utilize the pantry will fill out an intake form, swipe their Rambler card to make sure they are an active student, and then get one grocery bag to fill up.

Flora began looking into starting a pantry when she learned many students lost their refrigerated food after an extended power outage last February. She did a survey at the end of spring semester which showed of 346 student participants, 42.3 percent said they dealt with food insecurity over the previous year and 55.5 percent knew of other students who dealt with food insecurity over the previous year.

“About half of our student body potentially is facing food insecurity based on the survey and that’s huge,” Flora said. “It’s not just the students. Their family members also may need help. Since we have a high percentage of commuter students, they will be able to take food home to their families.”

The new Ram Pantry is stocked with the first shipment from Mountaineer Food Bank and from the annual Homecoming food drive competition sponsored by the Homecoming Committee. Ten teams collected 3,097 pounds of food. Winners were Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, which collected 924 pounds in the blue category for groups with 18 or more members, and Theta Xi fraternity, which collected 426 pounds in the gold category for groups with fewer than 18 members.

Flora said Shepherd President Mary J. C. Hendrix authorized $2,000 from the President’s Club to help start the pantry. Community partners include the New Street United Methodist Church and Shepherdstown Lion’s club. Flora estimates it could take about $9,000-$11,000 a year to support the pantry, so she said donations are welcome.

For more information and to donate, contact Flora at jflora@shepherd.edu.

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