» By JENELLE GREWELL – jgrewell@my.apsu.edu

Shannon Doss, a graduate student in Social Work, was sitting at Captain D’s waiting for her order, listening to an NPR radio show about food pantries closing down due to people using them so much and depleting the pantries of their supplies. She said one caller on the show was a man from the University of Michigan who talked about how the food pantry on their campus services over 4,000 students a year and there are very few on-campus food pantries in the United States.

With this information, inspiration struck Doss and she went to fellow graduate student in Social Work, Kaytrena Shepard, with the idea of starting a food pantry at APSU for a project on business analysis required for their macro social work class and the “Save our Students” or “S.O.S.” food pantry was born.

The S.O.S. food pantry will open Wednesday, Feb. 1, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and regular hours will be posted after. Doss said the food pantry will serve all active student body and their families with a student I.D. required prior to receiving goods.

Doss said they will be giving out dry goods, canned vegetables and other nonperishable food items and, hopefully, will be getting diapers, wipes, soaps, cleaning products and other household goods.

Doss said they are currently located in the Student Life and Leadership office in a coat closet with shelves. “We are going to quickly outgrow that,” Shepard said.

They want to reach out to anyone who needs help, including military families because there are a number of military families on food stamps. “It’s not going to be fancy, but if it’s bad enough where you need Ramen noodles, you can have them,” Doss said.

Shepard said she wants the pantry to focus in part on helping single mothers and mothers that are recently divorce.

Not only will the S.O.S. food pantry help students in need, but it will be a place for social work students to gain experience and do internships. Doss said part of their job as social workers is to help people. “If we have people coming into the food pantry more than three to five times, there’s other issues going on and maybe we can get them into accounting or counseling,” she said. She said they will have other outside resources to help these students. Both Doss and Shepard expressed the importance of giving social work student experience when building this project. “This is really a social work project and we are very much wanting them to be into it,” Doss said.

Another way the S.O.S. food pantry is helping get the campus involved is in the design of their logo. Doss said they are still in the process of creating a logo and they want to go to the Art department and get students involved in making a logo for the pantry. They both said they want it to be from the school and the students since the pantry is for the students.

Doss said people are donating supplies to help students in need. She said they have gone to Urban Ministries where they may get some of the overflow of donations they receive and eventually want to try to partner with Second Harvest food bank in Nashville.

Shepard said students taking advantage of the food pantry who don’t really need it is a risk that has to be taken into account, but with the implementation of the additional services after three to five visits, it should weed out those who are taking advantage of it.

Donations can be made at any time at the Student Life and Leadership office or at the social work department.

Shepard said eventually they want to get plastic bins with permanent locations around campus where people can donate goods.

For more information, visit the Student Life and Leadership website and click on the link for the Food Pantry. TAS