Students who do not get enough food at East Tennessee State University now have a new option — Bucky’s Food Pantry.
The food pantry officially opened Tuesday with a limited stock of non-perishable food items and water for students and employees who are in need.
David Shields, an ETSU graduate student in social work, said the food pantry was started because a student success specialist in the graduate office conducted interviews across campus and found some students were having trouble getting enough food.
People in the ETSU counseling center saw the need, too. According to Shields, 31 students who visited the school’s counseling center last semester indicated a need for food.
So as the need was seen, different groups on campus began to talk about how to address the situation and came up with the concept for a food pantry.
“We found that this is a phenomenon because of the economy probably but all across the nation campuses are starting up food pantries to address this need,” Shields said.
One study cited by Shields indicated 21 percent of student respondents were food insecure and 24 percent were at risk of being food insecure.
“The majority were not mismanaging their funds, they were just trying to make a large amount stretch to meet their basic needs,” Shields said.
Students who were food insecure also had a difficult time concentrating.
“And, of course, that stands to reason, that if you’re hungry, you may have difficulty concentrating on your studies,” he said.
Students or employees who experience catastrophic circumstances, such as the loss of a home due to a fire or tornado, also will have access to the food pantry.
There is not much food in the pantry now, but Shields said food drives are being organized so that by this fall the pantry will be fully stocked with non-perishable foods and personal hygiene items.
The pantry has already helped at least one student and volunteers have accepted applications for six others.
Bucky’s Food Pantry is operated by the ETSU department of social work. The pantry is located in the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center in room W-277.
A box for donating food will be located outside the pantry door, as well as at the social work office on campus.
For more information, to request food times, arrange for a donation delivery or to volunteer, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Monetary gifts to Bucky’s Food Pantry can be sent to University Advancement, Box 70721, Johnson City, TN 37614. The checks should be written to “Bucky’s Food Pantry.”