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UNG opens second food pantry for students in need

DahFoodPantry
Students Chris Cato and Harlie McCurley volunteer in a new food pantry on the UNG Dahlonega Campus.

This past year, the University of North Georgia (UNG) established a  food pantry on its Gainesville Campus to help combat food insecurity among students, staff and faculty in need. Since April 2016, the location has served an average of 80 people a month, with November seeing a high of 138. 

Due to high interest, a second pantry was recently opened on the Dahlonega Campus in the Vickery House, across from Price Memorial Hall.

"I am extremely happy that this project expanded to the Dahlonega Campus. This is a needed project to ensure all of our students can focus on their education and spend less time worrying about where their next meal is coming from," said Dr. Carly Redding, coordinator of the UNG Gainesville Food Pantry and assistant professor of sociology and human services. "I am proud that UNG has joined the more than 300 other schools across the country that have opened a food pantry and are serving this special need."

Nationwide, more than 360 educational institutions have recognized a need for on-campus food banks, including Georgia schools like University of Georgia, Kennesaw State University and Georgia State University. Studies conducted at the University of California – Berkeley and the University of California – Los Angeles revealed that 49 percent of their students chose to skip meals throughout the day to conserve money. Additionally, Virginia Commonwealth University reported that 57 percent of their students unwillingly go without food.

Many experts suggest that student food insecurity leads to absenteeism and poor grades, which is why Redding and Rosann Kent, director of the Appalachian Studies Center, wanted to help.

In coordination with the Appalachian Studies Center, the UNG Food Pantry provides non-perishable food items and basic supplies to students, staff and faculty in need. Student volunteers from the Appalachian Studies Center, Student Veterans of America, and other student clubs and service learning classes are managing, stocking and cleaning the pantry, while Kent oversees the day-to-day operations of the Dahlonega Campus location.

"The campus and community have been incredibly generous in filling the pantry rapidly. A new upright freezer and refrigerator were donated, giving us the capability of storing breads, meats, and vegetables from the Vickery House demonstration garden, as well as heirloom seeds," Kent said.

Sophomore Jameson Cooper helps support the pantry and considers the effort a valuable service.  

"One of the best things about the food pantry is its intent to serve the student body. When I got involved I wasn’t even aware we had a food insecurity issue on campus. Knowing that food insecure students will now have a place to go to get some food to eat is comforting," Cooper said.

UNG students, faculty or staff can access the pantry in Gainesville Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in room 338 of the Gainesville Student Center. In Dahlonega, the pantry is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Vickery House. Students who want to volunteer are invited to attend one of two trainings on Jan. 11 at 4 p.m. and Jan. 18 at 1 p.m. at the Vickery House.

Currently, the pantry has plenty of canned goods but needs individual meals that can be microwaved, baby wipes and sanitary/hygiene items. Those wishing to volunteer or donate to the Dahlonega location should email rkent@ung.edu or carly.redding@ung.edu for the Gainesville location.

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