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Black College News

NSU’s Student Food Pantry Has Outpouring of Alumni Support

By Rosaland Tyler
Associate Editor
New Journal and Guide

It’s not too late to donate food and other items to Norfolk State University’s Spartan Pantry, which received more than 7,000 items during its annual MLK national day of service pantry drive, which was held Jan.17-Jan. 31.

Alumni provided at least 50 percent of the recently donated items and were able to donate via Amazon Wishlist, which allows donors to quickly ship items directly to the pantry, from any location. Norfolk State’s annual pantry drive was coordinated by the Office of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving. The Athletics Department volunteered to serve as a coordinating partner, along with the Honors College, according to a recent press release.

“The recent food drive did exceptionally well and we are grateful to our supporters,” Dr. Khadijah O. Miller, professor of interdisciplinary studies and interim dean of the Honors College, said in a recent email interview.

“We are grateful to our supporters,” Miller added. “We have received more than 7,000 items. The persons who have donated include alumni (they constitute approximately 50+%, followed by faculty/staff, students themselves and community members). The efforts of our alum are greatly appreciated as the Office of Alumni Affairs spearheaded this project as part of the national day of service associated with the MLK holiday. The items include non-perishable foods, hygiene and sanitary products along with linens, school supplies and other items needed in the residence spaces.”

Miller said, “We have continued this program to support students on our campus, particularly during COVID-19, there are increased challenges experienced by our student population.”

Food insecurity is not restricted to Norfolk State. About 14 to 59 percent of all students experience food insecurity at some point in their college careers. “Most food insecure students were faced with issues of stigma and shame daily, which prevented them from seeking assistance from parents and federal social services,” the American Anthropological Assoc. noted in an Aug. 20, 2017 report in Annals of Anthropological Practice.

According to records from The College and University Food Bank Alliance.Norfolk State is actually among an estimated 700 campuses nationwide that operate a student food pantry.; however that number stood at just 88 nationwide in 2012 but continues to increase because more low-income students are enrolling in colleges and universities nationwide and the pandemic is increasing food scarcity on many campuses.

Norfolk State was the first Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to join the National College and University Foodbank Alliance in Virginia, according to a February 2021 press release.

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At the time, Michelle Hill, executive director of alumni relations and annual giving at Norfolk State said, “What has surprised me the most is the volume and the level of generosity at which people responded. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, people are still helping those in need.”

Miller said of this year’s outpouring of public support for the Spartan Pantry. “Students really appreciate the food pantry, especially first-year students. They have also expressed appreciation for the variety of products available. Our most frequent users are first-year students and residents of Spartan Suites who can cook a wider variety of food because they have kitchens.”

Norfolk State students may pick up food items at several sites on campus including Babbette Smith North Residence Hall, the Student Center and Dean of Students office.

To donate to the Spartan Pantry, please contact Alumni Relations at alumnirelations@nsu.edu or phone 757-823-8135.

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