Food pantries thrive on Gainesville and Dahlonega campuses

Student volunteers restock the shelves at the Food Pantry on UNG’s Dahlonega Campus.

While University of North Georgia assistant professor Dr. Carly Redding and lecturer Rosann Kent dislike that UNG and other college campuses across the country have to have pantries to feed food insecure students, faculty and staff, both are pleased the UNG community is filling that need.

“It is unfortunate that students, staff and faculty have to use the pantry, but good that they are using the resource,” said Redding, who supervises the Gainesville Campus food pantry.

This fall, the pantry on the Dahlonega Campus is providing fresh, perishable items thanks to donations from local farmers markets, said Rosann Kent, director of the Appalachian Studies Center and supervisor of the Dahlonega Campus food pantry. A donated freezer and refrigerator keeps items such as milk, eggs, bread, and butter fresh.

Five education students also undertook the monumental task of relocating and reorganizing the Dahlonega Campus’ food pantry this summer. It was part of their required service hours in the education class focused on exploring socio-cultural perspectives in diversity.

The first task was moving the pantry from its second-floor home in the Vickery House on West Main Street to the more user-friendly first floor.

“It wasn’t very accessible, because you had to go up the stairs of this old house,” said UNG junior Amanda Carter, who was one of the students who worked on the project.

The next task involved sorting the food and determining what items to keep, toss and donate. The third was reorganizing. Kent said the student did a phenomenal job, far exceeding her expectations.

“The pantry now resembles an organized retail environment with labeled shelves and signage throughout,” she said.

During the sorting process, the students inventoried the goods and created a new list of recommended donations. Some included non-perishable milk, protein or breakfast bars, tuna, and hygiene items.

Both campus pantries accept donations from parents, students and the community. The Gainesville Campus pantry also has a partnership with the Georgia Mountain Food Bank for food.