Student works to end hunger on campus

UNA student Julia Henderson is working to bring a food pantry to campus to serve students who may have trouble getting food and other resources on their own.

UNA student Julia Henderson, a community adviser, said it was a shock to witness students rummaging through garbage cans near the residence halls in search of food because they didn’t have the money or resources to buy their own.

Henderson said she has even given other residents food of her own when they have been in need. For Henderson and other community advisers, the issue of stealing food from roommates has also been a topic of concern.

To combat hunger on campus and give back to those in need, Henderson is initiating a Feeding the Pride food pantry to help those who desire food assistance and to provide service opportunities for students.

“This pantry will not just be for college students living on campus,” she said. “It will also be for the single parents and nontraditional students with families. Food is usually the last thing on a person’s priority list when they’re taking care of paying for tuition, books, gas and other bills.”

The issue Henderson and other officials are facing now in establishing the food pantry is finding a location that is easily accessible to students. Henderson is working with the university to find a spot that is centrally located but private enough for students to feel comfortable visiting.

Henderson is also looking for additional shelving, a computer for tracking data and client check-in, volunteers to run the food pantry and a student manager.

Henderson said she plans to use the summer to find a food pantry location, complete the supply stock and get things organized before fall, which is when she hopes the food pantry will be available to UNA students.

“I think this is amazing and shows what a compassionate heart (Henderson) has,” said Jennifer Brown, assistant director of student engagement for leadership and volunteerism. “She took the initiative to research this, contact other schools, and I think this is a great resource for the students. I’m proud of her for not only coming up with (the idea), but also having the leadership to do it.”

Students who use the food pantry in the future will be able to receive a variety of food items by filling out a form that will be available to them. Henderson plans for the pantry to be open to any enrolled student for approximately two to three hours each day of the week.

The food pantry is currently being stocked through Collier Library’s canned food drive for book and library fine amnesty. The pantry will rely solely on donations in order to function on campus.

“The (food pantry) encompasses everything that the University of North Alabama’s mission is about,” Henderson said. “It will provide an opportunity for students to grow not only in the outreach and service aspects, but in professional, civic, social, cultural and economic development needs for our campus as well.”