Panther Pantry was established in 2014 by graduate students from the coordinated program (CP) within the Nutrition Department. After conducting a survey showing 68% of college students at Georgia State University at one point were food insecure while enrolled at the university, the CP students knew something needed to be done. Studies have shown that food insecurity among college students is linked to lower graduation rates and ultimately undermines their ability to succeed.The pantry aimed to solve this problem, so with the help from volunteers, more CP students, and the Nutrition Department, the Panther Pantry began.
The pantry has seen a dramatic increase in student visits since the Fall of 2017. The pantry has served up to 49 students in one week, while prior student visits were 11-15 students per week. These results can be attributed to the efforts of many: The pantry manager, student volunteers, and the Nutrition Department’s addition to their CP program allowing graduate students to work in the pantry as part of a rotation. Part of this rotation is creating outreach projects which serve to increase awareness about the pantry as well as distribute nutrition education to students. Another exciting addition to the pantry is the new funding from a grant received from the GSU Sustainability Committee to purchase much needed supplies and equipment that would allow the Pantry to store fresh produce. Being able to offer fresh fruits and vegetables to GSU students would greatly enhance the quality of the food items currently offered at the Pantry.
Planning is underway for the launching of the Pantry’s Fresh Produce Initiative for Spring 2018. Through collaborations with our community partners and local farmers, we hope to become a sustainable source of shelf stable ,as well as fresh and nutritious, foods for food insecure students at GSU. As we continue to grow and develop, our goal is to improve the well-being and academic success of the GSU student population.