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USM Groups Unite to Help Increase Food Pantry Donations

Wed, 10/14/2020 - 11:18am | By: Van Arnold

The historic Covid-19 pandemic has created an increased need for donations to The University of Southern Mississippi’s Eagle’s Nest food pantry located on the Hattiesburg campus.

In response to that dilemma, a trio of University organizations – Sigma Alpha Lambda, Association of Office Professionals and Staff Council – united to generate awareness of the pantry’s plight. Over the past several months, the groups have become directly involved in collecting and delivering contributions for the pantry.

“We could not have maintained the pantry operations without the assistance of these organizations,” said Eagle’s Nest Adviser Dr. Tamara Hurst, associate professor in USM’s School of Social Work. “They worked with us throughout the summer and into the fall. Members worked in the pantry and delivered food to students who were unable to come to campus. The pantry relies on community support and volunteers to stay open. It means everything to us to receive this support.”

Located in the basement of The Hub on the Hattiesburg campus, The Eagle’s Nest provides food, hygiene items, school supplies and other assorted products to students and staff. Only a current Southern Miss identification card is needed to access the pantry.

Hurst notes that the pantry’s primary needs include shelf-stable items such as dried or canned beans, rice, fruits, vegetables and meats.

“We always welcome fresh fruits, vegetables and bread,” said Hurst. “Gently-used cookware and eating utensils are always in demand, particularly with student in off-campus apartments.”

Since the Covid-19 pandemic erupted across the country in March, the Eagle’s Nest has experienced an increased demand from staff and international students, in particular. Jennifer Lewis, Assistant Director of Compliance and Ethics at USM, serves as the Vice President for Community Service for Sigma Alpha Lambda. She is also an Eagle’s Nest board member. Lewis says the relentless pandemic has produced immense strain on charity venues such as the Eagle’s Nest.

“In these unprecedented times, we are concerned that our most vulnerable populations, i.e. some of our staff whose spouses may not have been able to return to work or missed work during earlier quarantine phases are playing catch-up and our students, especially our international students who cannot work off-campus continue to suffer from food insecurity due to the period of time during which they were not able to work on campus,” said Lewis.

Collection bins have been placed on the Hattiesburg and Gulf Park campuses at the following locations.

Barnes & Noble

Baptist Student Union

Century Park North

Century Park South

Cook Library

Duff Athletic Center

Fresh Food

Greek Life Office

Liberal Arts Building

Moffitt Health Center

Payne Center

Scianna Hall


Union Lobby

Wesley Foundation

Hardy Hall (Gulf Park campus in Long Beach)

Gulf Coast Library

The Eagles’ Nest food pantry is open on Monday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. To learn more about the Eagle’s Nest, contact Hurst at Tamara.hurstFREEMississippi or Lewis at Jennifer.lewisFREEMississippi