GSC Food Pantry to Address Food Insecurity

On August 8 students will return to the Gordon State College campus with one less concern  – food insecurity.

“I was amazed when a report revealed that nearly 40 percent of our students had experienced food insecurity during the previous year,” said Erica Madoni, GSC Counselor and chair of the Food Pantry committee. “I realized that we as a campus community had to do something.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.

“Students should be thinking about their grades, their classes, not about where their next meal may be coming from,” said Madoni. “Or if they have the basic items to maintain proper hygiene.”

While the development of a food pantry had been a topic of discussion for sometime it never really got off the ground. Madoni decided to move forward soliciting help from staff and faculty on campus and began converting a large storage closet in the Student Center.

Eventually, canned goods, quick cook packaged meals, pasta and other items will fill the shelves. There is also a section devoted to basic hygiene items like bar soap and shampoo.

Members of the counseling department will maintain the pantry. Students will be required to submit a short application to assess their needs, what food preparation devices they have access to and basic demographic information.

“We will use this data only to determine the utilization of the pantry, distribution of items, and what items are needed,” Madoni said. “We will log students’ visits discreetly, and the students will have access, depending on need and availability, to five food items and three toiletry items per weekly visit.”

Madoni noted that a monetary donation helped get the Pantry going, and others have contributed food and personal items, but much more is needed.

“We want this to be a discrete, no judgment experience for all students – commuters and residents – so they can concentrate on their studies, not how hungry they are,” Madoni said.

As the semester gets underway students will participate in promoting the pantry, a formal “ribbon cutting” will be held and a student-driven contest held to name the pantry.

“This is for the students,” Madoni said. “We want them to learn from it and participate in its success.”