Members of the Arkansas Tech University community in need can now look to their fellow members of the Tech family for assistance.
A cooperative project between registered student organization Because We Can, Tyson Foods and ATU has yielded the creation of the Green and Gold Cupboard. Because We Can hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, Sept. 29, and the facility formally opened on Monday, Oct. 2.
The food pantry for ATU students and employees will provide a confidential resource for individuals facing food insecurity, which is defined as lacking reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.
Green and Gold Cupboard will be open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 3-6 p.m. during the fall 2017 semester. Any individual with a need and a valid ATU identification card can visit the pantry at 1019 N. Arkansas Ave. to receive food and personal hygiene items.
“Every student, faculty and staff member who came together to help make this happen…I think we’ve all felt an abundant amount of joy from it,” said ATU senior and Because We Can member Marlie Ball of Gravette. “Being able to help our community and to make not only Russellville a better place, but the Tech community a better place…we want it to feel like a real family. I feel like we have done so much good, and to have been involved with this from the time it started until now is the best feeling ever. You get a feeling of pride.”
Tyson presented ATU with a $67,760.46 grant to begin work on a fully-equipped food pantry in 2016. ATU is making the space for the cupboard available, and Because We Can is organizing efforts to stock, maintain and staff the Green and Gold Cupboard.
During summer 2017, members of the ATU community donated 2,492 pounds of food and more than $1,000 in cash to help provide the initial inventory of items at the cupboard.
ATU junior and Because We Can member Sydney Stone of Clarksville believes the opportunity to assist with the cupboard is preparing her for her future.
“I plan to go to graduate school, so I know this is really going to help with that pursuit,” said Stone. “Because We Can helps develop student leaders, and student leaders get good jobs. I think it’s definitely professional development as well as being the feel-good organization we are.”
Additional contributions that have made the opening of the Green and Gold Cupboard possible include volunteer efforts by faculty, staff and students to clean, assemble shelving, paint and otherwise prepare the facility.
Volunteers, food donations and cash donations will remain welcome on an ongoing basis. Future drives will be announced on Because We Can social media platforms.
Dr. James Stobaugh, co-advisor for Because We Can along with fellow ATU Department of Behavioral Sciences faculty member Dr. Sean Huss, said that the opening of the cupboard is just one step in a multifaceted effort to identify and address the root causes of food insecurity.
“We know there’s a need there and we’re trying to meet the need, but we want to start doing some research assessing the need,” said Stobaugh. “We’re getting some students involved in a research project to measure the need in our community as it relates to food insecurity and college students. We’ve all had students we’ve known over the years who tell us they’re living in their cars for whatever reason, so we know it’s an unseen situation and we’re going to try to quantify that so we can develop solutions to meet those problems.”
For more information about the Green and Gold Cupboard, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Those wishing to make requests for assistance or seek more information may send e-mail to email@example.com.
Photographed above (from left-to-right): Angela Black, Green and Gold Cupboard board member; Dr. Keegan Nichols, ATU vice president for student services; Bernadette Hinkle, ATU vice president for administration and finance; Dr. James Stobaugh, Because We Can co-advisor; Pat Bourke, corporate social responsibility program manager for Tyson Foods; Dr. Sean Huss, Because We Can co-advisor; Brian Lasey, ATU director of physical plant; Lindelle Fraser, Green and Gold Cupboard board member; and Jenna Cahoon, founding member of Because We Can.