Grand opening of Marshall food pantry is Feb. 19 in student center

Updated 22 weeks ago Special to HNN Provided by Marshall University

HUNTINGTON, W. Va. - Marshall University will unveil its new food pantry with a grand opening at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19. The event will take place in room BW 14, which is located on the lower level of the Memorial Student Center on the Huntington campus.

The pantry is open to all students. It mainly consists of non-perishable items, such as canned goods. The pantry will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Tuesday and Friday, beginning Friday, Feb. 21.

Much of the food was donated by campus organizations that conducted food drives. The Marshall University Alumni Association is currently having a food drive that will run through Feb. 28. It is accepting canned goods and non-perishable items, and donations can be made during regular business hours at the Erickson Alumni Center, located at the MU Foundation Hall.

"The MU food pantry is designed to serve the needs of members of our Marshall family that find themselves in a situation of need," said Matt Hayes, executive director of alumni relations at Marshall. "It's just another way we can provide for the needs of the Marshall community and show the surrounding community how much we care about each other."

Marshall's Office of Community Engagement is opening the food pantry and conducting the grand opening, which will include a brief presentation with a ribbon cutting, followed by an open house with light refreshments.

Elizabeth Sheets, coordinator of MU's Office of Community Engagement, said the idea of putting a food pantry at Marshall first surfaced about two years ago.

"Steve Hensley (director of student affairs) and Ray Harrell (former student body president) started talking about it and I got involved and the three of us decided we'd start one," Sheets said. "We had to wait for our space, which we got once the faculty senate left."

Next came requests for food and money. The athletic department had a food drive in the fall, and eventually donated10 barrels of food. Sodexo collected money for the drive and the Honors College raised money as well. All donations are tax deductible, Sheets said.

"Our pantry is filling up, but we have a long way to go," she said. "We are probably about 70 percent full. We have no budget. We will absolutely be totally dependent on donations. We have enough food to open, but a lot of our shelves are still empty."

The College of Business plans to have a food drive next month. "I hope that each month of the year someone will have a food drive for us," Sheets said.

Monetary donations are welcome, she said. Checks can be made payable to the Marshall University Foundation Inc., with "Marshall food pantry" on the memo line.

Sheets said she doesn't know how much the pantry is needed or will be used by students.

"We do know it's become a trend among college campuses and we know how hard it can be for some students to make ends meet," she said. "We just want to have the food here in case someone does need it."
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