Today@Sam Article

Food Pantry Receives Powell Foundation Funding

Dec. 15, 2021
SHSU Media Contact: Wes Hamilton

Food Pantry entranceBy Karen Leonhart

The Food Pantry at Sam Houston State University has received a $50,000 grant from the Houston based Powell Foundation to support the creation of a mobile food pantry. 

The mobile unit will serve several purposes in the Huntsville community and increase engagement by meeting the community throughout the local area at designated distribution sites.

Many of those who use the Food Pantry do not have personal vehicles, and Huntsville’s public transportation is limited. Adding mobility to the pantry’s services will also increase awareness and visibility in the community that Sam Houston State is here to help. It will not only provide more distributions, but also facilitate collections by going to those businesses and organizations with items to donate that don’t have the time or a method to bring it to the pantry.

The mobile pantry also provides emergency response service capabilities in times of bad weather or other extenuating circumstances. The SHSU Food Pantry team realized this urgent need previously when they served the Bearkat and Huntsville communities throughout the duration of the pandemic and winter storms of 2021.

Student worker stocking mac and cheeseArianna Ramp, social media coordinator and student worker, shared why she loves working at the Food Pantry.

“It allows me to help my fellow Bearkats. I have previously dealt with food insecurity, and I want to reduce it in our community,” Ramp said. “A mobile food pantry would greatly benefit the community because it would allow us to accommodate and serve more people. Some individuals may not have a ride or have disabilities that may prevent them from walking or carrying heavy loads for long distances. By becoming mobile, we can bring the food closer to them.”

The Powell Foundation awarded $75,000 to the Food Pantry this year after a previous grant of $25,000 in March, which was used to impact those in need throughout the Huntsville community. The funding also allowed the Food Pantry to re-stock after the winter storm, enhance the campus community garden and purchase can openers for distribution to students after it was discovered that students would take items with pop tops because they did not have the tools at home to access the resource. They also used the funds to provide 1,000 backpacks to Huntsville ISD in support of their Backpack Program, which provides backpacks to carry food home for K-12 students who struggle with food insecurity.

Can opener give away

“We view the SHSU Food Pantry as a strategic opportunity to support both students’ postsecondary success and the overall well-being of Huntsville students and residents,” said a Powell Foundation representative.

Food Pantry ShelvesSince its founding, the Powell Foundation has awarded more than $57 million in grants to charitable organizations. In 2020, the foundation awarded over $13 million through 368 grants focused on education, the arts, human services, conservation, and other areas, with the latter including substantial support for COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts.

From the start of the academic year in August, the Food Pantry has had 1352 visits, distributing over 32,650 pounds of food. The Food Pantry also helps support the local schools. With the winter break coming up, the schools will do their best to assist with any food security needs of their students. The Food Pantry will work with schools to fill the gaps with missing items and has donated 981 pounds of food to HISD’s Buzzy’s Bin this year.

“We are grateful for the opportunity provided by the Powell Foundation to further our outreach and engagement in the Bearkat and Huntsville communities,” said Kathleen Gilbert, director of the Food Pantry. “Having this opportunity to enhance awareness and offer additional support through a mobile unit is necessary in eradicating food insecurity in our community, and we are excited to be a part of that effort.”

To learn more about how you can help the SHSU Food Pantry, visit their website or follow them on social media.

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