By relocating and expanding its services, the Dixie State College Food Pantry and Service Center is ready to feed both students in need and those with a hunger for making a positive impact on their community through service.
For students in certain circumstances, the rigors of college life can make something as basic as having enough food to keep them functioning properly difficult. When Dean of Students Del Beatty arrived on campus in 2008, he was determined to take the experiences he had at Southern Utah University and develop a program at DSC where students struggling to make ends meet could come and get some help.
What started with a modest pantry in the student kitchen quickly transformed into much more when Mary Nell Lundquist, service and Americorps specialist, began making contributions and directing the program. Soon there were many successful food drives, an ever-increasing variety of foods, and donations from do-gooders.
Although the Food Pantry is available to all students who are low on food or other necessities—such as toiletries—Lundquist said there were other necessary steps to making the Food Pantry more accessible to a larger population of students.
“It can be hard for students to come up, surrounded by some of the elite of the school, and ask for help,” Lundquist said, in reference to the Food Pantry’s old location, where students would have to walk through the student government room in order to utilize the service.
Prepared to do what it took to accommodate students, the Dixie administration decided to move the Food Pantry to the Gardner Center’s second floor, next to the student government office. Now located where the post office used to be, the Food Pantry will officially open in the next few weeks, and students can count on its assistance for short-term needs.
Lundquist said those with long-term needs should also make a trip to the Food Pantry. There they can take what they need, and the staff can refer them to the Utah Food Bank, where they can be assisted for more help.
The Food Pantry will not only help those in need, though.
Beatty said there will be many more chances for DSC students to sign up for service projects at the new location. Next to the new Service Center, both programs have several opportunities in the works—such as a potential lunch buddy program with Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Given that there are an increasing amount of programs for students to do community service on campus, Morgan Abbott, a junior biology major from Las Vegas, said this will be beneficial for both students and the community.
“It’s beneficial because kids will learn a lot more from it than just classroom work,” Abbott said. “It’s good to get involved in the community.”
Both Beatty and Lundquist said it is vital that word of the Food Pantry and its services spread so students can both go to it for basic needs and also sign up for community service opportunities at the Service Center. Many students that are struggling to make ends meet and those looking for community service projects could greatly benefit from the Food Pantry and Service Center, but they may not know where the programs are and what they do yet.
Jared Spencer, a sophomore communication major from Derby, Kan., said he would be interested in being involved in the service projects DSC offers. Since the Food Pantry and Service Center offices are in a very familiar area, it would make students more likely to utilize these opportunities.
The Food Pantry has changed much in many aspects over the past few years, and with plans to add more foods and necessities, students can count on assistance in their time of need. However, in order for it to work to its full potential, Beatty said all students need to help wipe out hunger.
“I hope students will keep their eyes and ears open to students who never seem to be eating or having enough money to buy food,” Beatty said, “Tell them, ‘Did you know there is a food pantry where you can go and get help?’”