After less than a year of effort, the shelves are stocked to overflowing with cans of soup and vegetables, ramen noodles, peanut butter and the odd bottle of baby food or energy drink.
Tennessee Tech University’s food pantry, established to feed hungry students, is ready to open its doors for its first weekly distribution Thursday, Sept. 5.
“The food pantry is full. The floor is covered in food, it’s in boxes underneath the shelves,” said Michelle Huddleston, coordinator of the TTU Service Center, which is organizing the pantry. “It’s Tech feeding Tech, literally.”
Service Center staff last semester did an anonymous online survey of TTU students to see if there was a need for a food pantry on campus. When the results came in, they discovered that there were students going hungry. They decided to champion the effort and ask for donations.
“As soon as we started putting things in Tech Times, people had us coming to classes to talk about it. Katie Williams had us come talk to Panhellenic,” said Kaitlin Salyer, a TTU alumna who is working at the Service Center though the AmeriCorps Vista program. “From then on, we had so much interest. It’s really taken off.”
The first distribution will be from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5. Students will be able to pick up food at the back door to the cafeteria in Foundation Hall.
To get assistance, students have to fill out an application at http://ttufoodpantry.weebly.com. The application includes information about a student’s access to a stove or microwave, as well as any family members. It is anonymous, though students will be asked to provide a T number to ensure they are enrolled at TTU.
Each student will receive two bags of food, with an extra bag for each family member.
TTU volunteers will be bagging the food in the cafeteria and community volunteers will be distributing the bags at the door to protect students’ anonymity.
Distributions will continue weekly as supplies last, according to Salyer. Donations of non-perishable food items or money can be dropped off at the Service Center in Roaden University Center 108.