NATCHITOCHES – Students volunteers hosted a rededication of the Northwestern State University Food Pantry March 18 as one activity that took place during spring Homecoming week. Student groups dropped off donations for the Demon Drive service project, toured the renovated facility, restocked shelves and learned about services provided. The Pantry was established as a group project by social work students in 2015 to address food insecurity on campus.
“Today, our mission is the same as it was then: to combat food insecurity by providing temporary emergency assistance in the form of healthy, culturally appropriate non-perishable food items to students in need,” said Jessica Mullican of DeRidder. She along with Sheridan Duet of Thibodaux are student coordinators of The Pantry.
The Pantry serves all NSU and BPCC@NSU students free of charge. The Pantry has been a vital resource, especially through events of the last year when students were financially affected by COVID-19, multiple hurricanes, the recent winter storm and other unexpected expenses, according to Reatha Cox, director of Student Affairs. During university breaks and other closures, prepackaged bags were placed for collection outside The Pantry, which is located on the south side of Trisler Power Plant on NSU’s Central Avenue. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 8 a.m.-noon Friday.
NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio congratulated the students on the project that came together through the collaboration of several individuals and organizations.
“This is what I love about Northwestern – students helping students,” Maggio said. “It was initiated by students who brought their ideas to staff and administrators who helped, who mentored, but ultimately this project is student-driven.”
The Pantry recently underwent a floor to ceiling facelift, partially funded by a grant of unused travel funds from the Student Government Association. Students from the President’s Leadership Program and Alpha Lambda Delta First Year Honor Society worked with other groups and individuals to coordinate improvements that include facility rehab, branding, communication and supplies. The Pantry is set up like a small convenience store with a friendly staff of volunteers who participate in training on the importance of courtesy and confidentiality.
Many university and student groups such as University Programming Council, Housing and Residential Life, Greek organizations, faculty and staff, along with clubs, businesses and individuals from the Natchitoches community have donated items to stock The Pantry with non-perishable food, toiletries, personal care items, cleaning supplies, kitchen tools, cutlery, sanitizer and other household necessities. Earlier this year, The Pantry received a $10,000 boost of support from Northwestern graduate Mike Knotts, a 1986 NSU graduate.
Monetary donations to support The Pantry are accepted through the NSU Foundation. Donors can visit www.northwesternstatealumni.com and support the NSU Food Pantry in the Make A Gift section and specifying the NSU Food Pantry.