Northeast Georgian Features Piedmont’s Food Pantry for Students in Need
This article ran in the Jan. 27, 2023 edition of The Northeast Georgian.
Piedmont Staff Lend a Hand to Students in Need
by John Dills
Helping students with financial hardship during the semester is a concern that has been on the minds of many Piedmont University staff members for a while.
The Rev. Tim Garvin-Leighton, campus minister, shared that a pantry was available to students to help with food costs at his previous institution. Ineke Dyer, Director of Student Support Services, noted that she had a similar experience to Garvin-Leighton. According to the group, the idea came from Brenda Boonstra, Director of Undergraduate Admission, as she is involved in her church’s food pantry.
“They started it with just a cabinet to see if there is a need,” Dyer said. “You don’t really know how big a need is until you try it and see if you have any takers. We had this cabinet for storage, and I just said ‘We can start there.’ We can start small and see how it goes.”
Still in the beginning stages, the pantry offers non-perishable food such as microwavable mac and cheese and hygiene supplies like toilet paper.
That one cabinet for food storage has come a long way. From an idea in the summer to become a reality in October, the future of the food pantry is vibrant. Helping students to afford groceries through life events as they are getting started is only another way to help for Garvin-Leighton.
“We’ve had a long history before I got here and since I’ve been here of having this discretionary fund that is out of my office where I can help students with life events when they don’t have the money,” Garvin-Leighton said. “A flat tire, it can pay for it to be repaired or whatever. We always knew there were always these financial crises or family emergency situations that could significantly impact or cause a student to have to drop out or something.”
Although there is not a mass amount of students who need the pantry, it is there in case they do. Its purpose is to help those who need it, when they need it.
“I think most residential students have a meal plan, so most of them are covered. We also have commuter students,” Dyer said. “I think with the cost of food, and a lot of students struggle to cover the cost of books. One life event – a flat tire, needing glasses or books can derail a student’s education which seems kind of crazy, but it can if you don’t have those funds available.”
Without a large room dedicated to the pantry, the group is keeping donations small for the time being but hopes to grow the pantry more in the future to keep needs met. “I think we had talked about partnerships with local employers,” said Lisa Mann, Director of Career Services. “So if maybe an Aldi comes in, getting a partnership with them to see if they could help provide items for it or other companies that we’ve established employer partnerships with that maybe they could be a way for them to even strengthen their employer partnership with us even more down the road.”
Looking toward the future of the pantry, the organizers want to continue assisting students in need. “I see it continuing beyond this semester, and hopefully it will continue to expand at some point,” Garvin-Leighton said.” I think right now we’re really just trying to see what they like and what they’re taking.”
To donate to the Chaplain’s Discretionary Fund, contact Garvin-Leighton at firstname.lastname@example.org.