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Ram Pantry receives $25K grant to fight food insecurity

ISSUED: 10 January 2024
MEDIA CONTACT: Cecelia Mason

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Dr. Jennifer Flora, Suzanne Shipley Wellness Center director, has been awarded a $25,191 grant from the Posey Perry Emergency Food Fund, facilitated by the West Virginia Governor’s office.

“This grant represents a crucial step in addressing food insecurity within the Shepherd community, directly benefiting both students and staff,” Flora said. “The grant is a testament to our commitment to ensuring that no member of our community goes hungry. It’s not just about providing food; it’s about giving our students and employees the peace of mind to focus on their education and work without the burden of food scarcity.”

Photo of Jenny Flora standing in the Ram Pantry

The grant will be used to enhance the Ram Pantry on campus and to offer free hot meals across all dining locations to students and employees facing financial hardships. Additionally, it will support the creation of care packages and meal kits, especially for those who wish to maintain anonymity when receiving aid. Collaboration with campus offices, such as counseling services, will ensure discreet and effective distribution to those in need.

According to Flora, more than 3,000 individuals stand to benefit from this initiative.

“By addressing basic needs, we are removing barriers to education and employment,” Flora said. “It’s about empowering our community to be proactive in their goals rather than reactive to their circumstances.”

A significant portion of Shepherd’s student body comes from Jefferson and Berkeley counties, where the poverty rate is as high as 10%. In addition, 32.5% of Shepherd students rely on PELL grants, which are awarded to students who display exceptional financial need. Flora said Shepherd recognizes the acute need for the support offered by the grant.

“A recent survey revealed that 42.3% of students experienced food insecurity in the past year, a situation exacerbated by the pandemic,” she said. “This grant is not just a response to a temporary crisis, but a strategic move to strengthen our community’s foundation.”

Flora said Shepherd prides itself on maintaining accessible higher education, and this grant is a step further in supporting those who are economically disadvantaged.

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