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"Nigel's Nest" food pantry opens on Oconee Campus

Oconee Campus Food Pantry Opens
A group of UNG staff volunteers stock the shelves of "Nigel's Nest," the Oconee Campus food pantry in Bishop Hall, in preparation for opening March 6.

Barbara Arnold, associate director of student counseling on the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Oconee Campus, noticed an increasing number of students with food insecurity issues in the spring 2017 semester, and it had only gotten worse in the fall.

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

"Students try to balance money issues; gas, books, tuition, food," Arnold said. "It oftentimes comes down to a student thinking, 'Do I use my last five dollars to buy food, or to put gas in my car?' Because for some students, that's a very real choice."

Dr. Cyndee Perdue Moore, executive director of the Oconee Campus, charged Arnold and Dr. Gary Adcox, director of campus success and strategic initiatives, with finding a solution to the problem.

Both enlisted the advice of Dr. Carly Redding, assistant professor of sociology and human services at UNG, who was instrumental in establishing the food pantry on the Gainesville campus. Adcox, who was new to campus after starting his job in mid-December, visited area food banks to get ideas on what the Oconee Campus should stock.

"I was pleasantly surprised by the number of faculty and staff who wanted to do their part," Adcox said. "It went from being a reactive project to a proactive one. Dr. Redding came down here and spent the day talking to us, sharing best practices from what she learned in setting up the Gainesville pantry."

A large storage room in the back of Bishop Hall was cleared out and renamed "Nigel's Nest." Heavy-duty stainless steel shelving, purchased with donated funds, was installed along its walls. Large cardboard boxes strategically placed throughout the campus steadily filled with donated food, household items and toiletries.

"We purposefully chose this space because there's an outside door next to the pantry," Moore said. "That way, anyone in the UNG family can come and pick up items with relative privacy and without the anxiety of being judged."

Once it's fully stocked and operational, the pantry will be open March 6 to UNG students, faculty and staff from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays. There will be canned, boxed and microwavable food, personal hygiene items, some household items, and school supplies. Items will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Arnold said those using the pantry on a regular basis will be asked if they would like to fill out a form to determine if they have a need for other community resources such as veteran services, legal services, mental and/or physical health care, and social service needs.

"We want to do anything that will help our students and staff succeed," Arnold said.

"Nigel's Nest," the Oconee Campus food pantry, is located in Room 728 in Bishop Hall. For more information, including what items to donate, contact Dr. Gary Adcox at gary.adcox@ung.edu or 706-310-6320.

 

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