USM Groups Unite in Donation Drive to Benefit Eagle’s Nest Food Pantry
Fri, 12/13/2019 - 16:35pm | By: Van Arnold
Jennifer Lewis, Assistant Director of Compliance and Ethics at The University of Southern Mississippi, can relate to the struggles many college students face regarding food needs.
Lewis’ personal experiences have been instrumental in her efforts to help organize a food donation drive to benefit the Eagle’s Nest Food Pantry, located on the Hattiesburg campus. The University’s Staff Council and Association of Office Professionals have united to conduct the “Hattiesburg for the Holidays” donation initiative that will continue through Friday, Dec. 20.
“Personally, this means so much to me because I too remember being plagued by hunger when I was a first-generation student, undergraduate student attending the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. Since my mom was a single parent who depended on child support, she could not assist me financially. She had to make ends meet for her and my little brother.”
Lewis further noted that to supplement her income from working nights and weekends, she often sold her platelets at a local blood bank just to acquire enough money for food.
“As a result of my limited funds, I often struggled to concentrate and learned a lot of bad food habits, given that I subsisted on fast food due to it being cheap. However, I feel that strongly that academic success and health depend on us supporting our students, so that they do not have to place their health or their academic success at risk.”
The Eagle's Nest Food Pantry provides on-campus resources free of charge for Southern Miss students and staff who are temporarily experiencing challenges accessing basic necessities, including food. Located in the basement of the Hub Building, the pantry is open on Wednesday and Friday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Food collection bins have been placed at various sites on USM’s Hattiesburg campus and the Gulf Park campus in Long Beach. These include:
· Barnes & Noble Bookstore (1st floor by registers)
· Century Park North (1st-floor lobby)
· Cook Library (1st-floor lobby)
· International Building (1st floor inside Einstein Brothers Bagels/Zoca)
· Liberal Arts Building (1st-floor lobby)
· Moffitt Health (lobby)
· Payne Center (lobby)
· Scianna Hall (1st floor)
· Wilber Hall (1st-floor lobby)
Gulf Park Campus
· Fleming Education Center (near 1st-floor elevator)
· Hardy Hall (at the elevator near the One-Stop)
· North Academic Building
· Lloyd Hall
Lewis, who serves as Community Service Chair for USM’s Association of Office Professionals, worked closely with Valerie Craig, President-Elect of the Mississippi Association of Educational Office Professionals and Technology Application Services Manager at USM, on a similar effort in October. In November, the initiative expanded to its current theme when USM Staff Council representative Dr. Donavan Johnson reached out to Lewis with the idea of broader collaboration.
Lewis notes that hundreds of items have been collected since the initiative began last month. A key objective of the donation drive is to create greater awareness about the food pantry and food insecurities in general.
“This demand can only be met if everyone is aware of the need and is given the opportunity to contribute,” said Lewis. “Our campus community cares about each other and when given the opportunity they will step up to lend a helping hand. However, we need to be sure that they are given the opportunity to easily do so.”
Added Lewis, “Their investment in this pantry through donations will help the pantry meet increasing demand and potentially result in some individuals volunteering to help staff the pantry, which will allow for it to potentially be open for additional hours. Moreover, as their awareness increases, they can share the pantry as a resource with any students who are in need.”
For more information about the Eagle’s Nest Food Pantry, call 601.266.4163 or visit: https://www.usm.edu/social-work/eagles-nest-food-pantry.php