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Blue Ridge Campus opens food pantry

2020-09-25-Blue Ridge food pantry
Anna Speessen, coordinator of the Academic Success Services on UNG's Blue Ridge Campus, oversees the food pantry at the school's stand-alone campus. About 17 of the school's current 234 students have accessed the pantry since it opened.

Students at the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Blue Ridge Campus received an extra amenity at their new stand-alone campus.

The Blue Ridge Campus established its own food pantry and recently partnered with Feed Fannin on the service, said Sandy Ott, director of the Blue Ridge Campus. Feed Fannin is an all-volunteer organization that educates and encourages the community toward self-sufficiency while providing food for those in need.

According to a 2018 national survey from the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, more than 60 percent of students from two- and four-year higher education institutions had experienced food insecurity within the past 30 days. Almost 86,000 students at 123 institutions responded questions about the basic security needs in the annual assessment in fall 2018.

"Being able to offer a food pantry helps ease student hunger and relays the message to students that we are focused on them and care about their well-being," said Anna Speessen, coordinator of the Academic Success Services who oversees the food pantry.

Available to students, the Blue Ridge food pantry is open during normal school hours or after hours by appointment. It is located in the Student Success Center, which is home to academic and support services. About 17 of the school's current 234 students have accessed the pantry, Ott said.

"When hunger is a distraction, students have a harder time in the classroom. This pantry has the potential to combat food insecurity," said Speessen, coordinator of the Academic Success Services.

Blue Ridge faculty and staff started the food pantry amid the COVID-19 pandemic when food insecurity became more noticeable among their students. Donations began to pour in immediately. A makeshift food pantry then popped up on the original Blue Ridge Campus site.

"Since our students were at home, we started a twice-a-week pickup," Ott said, explaining students filled out a confidential form to receive food. "We would meet students on campus and bring food out to them at the curb. It was a campus-door-to-car-door delivery system."

Once the new 12,000-square-foot facility off Ga. 515 opened its doors this fall, the food was transferred to the Student Success Center. Speessen said she enjoys helping with the pantry.

"It gives me an opportunity to support students as a whole, and it gives the community an opportunity to support our students," Speessen said.

The pantry's establishment in Blue Ridge means all five UNG campuses have a designated place for students to receive food and other items such as toiletries and even some school supplies. The Gainesville and Dahlonega campuses also allow faculty and staff to access the pantries.

With the formation of food pantries on all five campuses, the need for donations continues. A shopping or wish list for each pantry is available online.

UNG's food pantries

Blue Ridge

  • Hours: 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday
  • Location: Student Success Center
  • More information: Contact Anna Speessen at anna.speessen@ung.edu 

Cumming

  • Hours: By appointment only; schedule a pickup time with Nikki McNeill
  • Location: Near front desk of the Student Resource Center
  • More information: Contact Nikki McNeill at McNeill@ung.edu

Dahlonega

  • Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday
  • Location: First floor of the Vickery House across the street from Hansford Hall and Price Memorial
  • More information: Contact Sherry Parker at Parker@ung.edu

Gainesville

  • Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays; and 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays
  • Location: In the Student Center next to the information desk
  • More information: Contact Dr. Carly Redding at redding@ung.edu or Domini'que Allen at dominique.allen@ung.edu

Oconee

  • Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesdays
  • Location: Room 728 inside Bishop Wellness and Activities Hall
  • More information: Email NigelsNest@ung.edu or text 678-780-9509

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