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Wednesday, January 8, 2014
by: Rene Abadie
STOCKING UP – Tasha Cooper, left, an assistant director with the Southeastern Foundation, and student Taylor Petit, a junior marketing major from Luling, stock the shelves in the recently opened Southeastern Louisiana University food pantry.
HAMMOND – In the midst of the holiday season, most people are able to recognize their blessings while perceiving the needs of those less fortunate.
While the typical depiction of hunger usually focuses on the homeless or families in poverty, insecurity about food is also evident among other, less obvious groups, including some college students. Those far from their homes and families or on severely constrained budgets have been known to suffer what has become termed "food insecurity."
At Southeastern Louisiana University, students are taking the lead to ensure their friends and colleagues have enough food to eat over the holidays, when campus dining facilities are generally closed. Through the recently-opened Southeastern Student Food Pantry, these students will be assured of having food over the holidays.
"A survey of our students indicated that more than half either knew someone who faced food insecurity or themselves were concerned about getting enough to eat," said Tasha Cooper, an assistant director with the Southeastern Foundation, the private fund raising arm of the university and one of the organizers of the pantry.
The pantry opened in late November, just before Thanksgiving, and more than 30 students took advantage of the opportunity to stock up on canned goods and other pre-prepared foods. With the Christmas holidays approaching, approximately 25 students have visited the pantry. Most of the students visiting the pantry live off-campus.
The pantry will continue to operate throughout the school year, explained Cooper. The program is funded by the Lion Legacy Association, the university's student philanthropy organization, and the Foundation. Funds raised through direct donations and the Phil the Pig program – in which students are encouraged to fill small green piggy banks with loose change – are being dedicated to the food pantry.
"We've had several generous monetary donations come in from alumni, and we've received food donations from faculty and staff," Cooper said. "One sociology professor has been collecting food donations for us and has brought in close to 1,000 food items."
The food pantry is located on campus in Mims Hall. Individuals and organizations wishing to donate non-perishable food items or funds to support the pantry should contact Tasha Cooper in the Southeastern Foundation at email@example.com or Brendan Daigle in Multicultural and International Student Affairs at Brendan.Daigle@southeastern.edu.