The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Fueling minds

NE student worker Lance Lambert sorts and organizes donations at the NE food pantry. Lambert keeps track of the donations and stocks the shelves in NCAB 1136A. Photo by Gabrielle Saleh/The Collegian

By Kathryn Kelman/editor-in-chief

Campus pantries fight food insecurity

Thanksgiving is a time for people to be thankful for what they have, but it’s also a time for giving back. The three campus food pantries and the NW food market are well versed in doing just that.

South, NE and SE Campuses have food pantries located on their campus open each week while the NW food market is open on the third Friday of every month unless otherwise specified.

SE Campus opened their food pantry this semester, and it is currently open Thursdays and Fridays 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. in EMBD 1104, sociology assistant professor Sharon Wettengel said.

Since opening, the pantry has partnered with Arlington Charities and on average serves between 75 to 100 students each month, she said.

“This includes those in need of grocery bags full of a variety of food items and/or those in need of a snack to get them through a short period of time before they can afford to purchase a more substantial amount of food,” Wettengel said.

Unfortunately, the campus food pantries aren’t open during breaks when campuses are closed, Wettengel said.

“We plan to open Monday and Tuesday 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. the week of Thanksgiving,” she said.

For those in need over the break, the pantry will provide recipients with information about social services available in the Arlington and Tarrant County area, Wettengel said.

“The week before Thanksgiving, Arlington Charities has offered to provide us with ‘holiday bags’ packed with traditional Thanksgiving meal food items,” she said.

SE student Amy Behren, who Wettengel says has been instrumental to the SE food pantry’s success, got involved with the pantry before it opened, Behren said.

“I was invited to join the food pantry committee to help give a student’s perspective,” she said.

Continuing to volunteer at the pantry seemed like a natural path to follow, Behrens said.

“It has been humbling to see students, faculty and staff come together as both givers and receivers,” she said.

Anyone interested in donating to the SE food pantry can bring items to the pantry in EMBD 1104 during open hours or to Wettengel’s office in ESED 2402.

South’s pantry is also new this semester. It opened in September on the same day the campus celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Unlike the SE pantry, it is currently open Monday through Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. in SSTU 1104A-S, student development services director Jared Cobb said.

“During the first month of operation, considered a ‘soft opening,’ the South Campus Food Pantry served approximately 58 unique students with 161 visits,” Cobb said.

Donations are accepted five days a week, and anyone looking to drop off donations can take them directly to the pantry or to the SSTU information center window, Cobb said.

“All dry, good food items and canned items are welcome,” he said.

Cobb said they hope to have a student leadership panel in place by next fall to operate all aspects of the pantry.

“The South Campus Food Pantry is primarily run by students who volunteer their time,” Cobb said.

South student Isaiah Thompson is one of the volunteers.

South student Isaiah Thompson places a bin of dry goods on the shelf at the South food pantry on Nov. 10. The pantry is located in SSTU 1104A-S.
South student Isaiah Thompson places a bin of dry goods on the shelf at the South food pantry on Nov. 10. The pantry is located in SSTU 1104A-S.
Photo by Tiara Gavis/The Collegian

“I chose to volunteer because I’m really big on giving back to the community, and TCC South has now become part of my community,” Thompson said.

Like the other campuses, the South pantry will not be open when the campus is closed. The pantry isn’t doing anything on Thanksgiving this year, Thompson said.

“But we do have forms to direct people to the local area food banks,” he said.

The forms include the food bank’s name, address, contact information and how far away the food bank is from South.

The pantry will also relocate to the middle of campus for a one-day blitz to provide food prior to the break on Nov. 20, Cobb said.

The NW Community Food Market is also new this semester. Having only opened twice so far this semester, the market has already served 568 families, she said.

To provide a relaxed, positive and energetic environment where the community can make a positive impact, the campus opted to call the event a food market rather than a food pantry because of the term’s negative stigma, NW divisional dean Lisa Benedetti said.

The market partners with Community Link Saginaw and Tarrant Area Food Bank but also holds drives on NW for plastic grocery bags and change drives to purchase protein for the market, Benedetti said.

Just in time for Thanksgiving, the market will open at 10 a.m. Nov. 17 in the hangar behind the collegiate high school and will finish serving at 1:30 p.m. Grocery bags are not provided, so people are advised to bring their own.

Registration is required and limited to one person per household, but people can register on site the day of the event.

The NE Campus food pantry has been around the longest having opened in spring 2016. It has seen a steady growth in use and served over 1,100 students facing food insecurity last year, sociology instructor Cheryl North said.

The pantry is open Mondays through Thursdays 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Fridays 12:30-3:30 p.m. in NCAB 1136A.

Like the other campuses, the NE pantry will not be open when the campus is closed, but it is accepting donations and coordinates with faculty, staff and the TCC Foundation to arrange seasonal giving projects, North said.

“The NE Food Pantry is supported 100 percent through donations,” she said. “The bulk of our donations come from individuals or from campus clubs/organizations who conduct fundraising drives to benefit the pantry.”

Efforts to establish donation relationships with area grocery stores are in the works, North said. The pantry has three work-study student employees, she said, and NE student Lance Lambert is one of them.

“I hand out food,” he said. “I take donations. I keep accountability of what comes in and out and track food pickups and who comes and volunteers every day.”

Lambert is a single dad on food stamps himself and got involved with the NE food pantry to help others, he said.

“I know it’s hard to be in college and trying to keep a job and take care of your kids and do everything else,” he said.

In addition to helping out with the pantry, Lambert and his daughter go out every year and donate around Christmas and Thanksgiving on their own time, he said.

To donate to the NE pantry, items can be left in the donation box outside the pantry in NCAB 1136-A.

TR does not have a food pantry at this time, but they direct students in need to local area food banks near the campus, administrative assistant Devynn Case said.

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