Clayton State University is taking the steps to fight hunger among students on campus with a twist on the traditional food pantry.
On Aug. 18, more than 50 student volunteers convened at Laker Hall to decorate and convert old newspaper stands into mini food pantries. The outdoor pantries will be installed around campus to provide students in need with quick access to non-perishable food items.
The event was sponsored by Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity and Campus Life.
The mini-food pantries are inspired by the Laker Care Closet. Initiated by Alpha Phi Omega in 2011, Laker Care Closet is an on-campus food pantry filled with non-perishable food items for students in need, as well as business attire to ensure students can look their best for upcoming job interviews.
The pantries are designed with the same principles as the Little Free Library, a nonprofit that increases access to books through library boxes with free books placed in and around communities.
"You're going to see them around campus, just like you would see your newspaper stands, but instead it's going to be a food drop off. You can drop in food and you can also take out food," said Alicia Gore, Business Management major and member of Alpha Phi Omega.
Gore knows about student poverty firsthand.
"I was a student who needed to use the Laker Care Closet", she says. "I didn't even know about it. It was recommended to me by my advisors and they were the ones who told me Alpha Phi Omega was associated with the closet."
Many students like Gore have been positively by the Laker Care Closet over the years.
"We have been receiving positive feedback [from Laker Care Closet],” said Atawanna Royal, Assistant Director of Campus Life. "The more we can get students involved in knowing that they're taking care of their own, the students who are in need will feel comfortable utilizing the closet."
Volunteers also decorated grocery bags that will be placed beside the mini food pantries and wrote encouraging letters to students using the pantries.
"This is a very sensitive subject," Royal said. "So, we have to make sure we are being compassionate and considerate with our message, and we want students to feel comfortable."
Additionally, volunteers prepared peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the local emergency shelter, Calvary Refuge Center, that were delivered that evening.
"This was more than we expected,” said Simeon Brown, Criminal Justice major and former president of Alpha Phi Omega. "We're not only giving back to the students on campus but the community around our school as well."