On Oct. 12, The University of Southern Mississippi Department of Social Work will open a food and supply pantry called The Eagle’s Nest.
The pantry will work with other community services such as Extra Table and Edward Street Fellowship Center to provide services to enrolled students and faculty in need.
The Eagle’s Nest food pantry was started by Tamara Hurst, the faculty liaison to the Student Association of Social Work, according to the pantry’s student intern Jennifer Martin.
The pantry will primarily target students due to some recent data collected by the Department of Social Work. The data showed that residents in the Hattiesburg community feel that there are resources out there, but students may not have easy access to them.
This study suggested that hunger-level poverty on college campuses is more common than the average student believes.
Another study conducted by the Wisconsin HOPE Lab suggested that 71 percent of college students have adjusted their eating habits to deal with insufficient funds. Seven percent of college students even reported going an entire day without food because they were unable to afford a meal. These numbers are consistently growing, and the Eagle’s Nest is designed to help prevent this from further progressing, according to Martin.
“I’ve actually heard of students on this campus dumpster diving, so obviously there is an issue,” Martin said. “No student should have to do that.”
The pantry is located in the Hub, near the Department of Sustainability’s Bicycle Recycling area and across from the football stadium. It will be open on Monday from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., Wednesday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and Friday 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. to ensure that most students will be able to access the pantry regardless of their varying schedules.
“It is very difficult for students to access off-campus resources due to lack of transportation, so it’s important that we provide that here on this campus,” Martin said.
Staff and students who live off campus and can use the resources provided by the Eagle’s Nest. Since it partners with other services in the community, the pantry does specifically serve on campus and will refer other community members to some of these partner services.
The pantry offers students an opportunity to get involved with the community as well.
The School of Social Work has created a yearly student internship position that includes managing the pantry and coordinating other student volunteers.
Student volunteers are highly encouraged to get involved with the Eagle’s Nest, especially during the beginning stages, according to Martin.
The Eagle’s Nest is a beginning step for many ideas that the Department of Social Work plans to implement in the near future. Through the Eagle’s Nest, the department wants to reach out to other aspects of student life specifically those that might be challenging to students and faculty facing poverty.
Martin said the department wants to assist students in managing their lives outside of class and after they receive a degree. The department plans to collect professional wear for job interviews and offer help in interview skills to help students find jobs during and after college.
It also want to help students access insurance and healthcare by teaching how to apply and be financially responsible.
The Eagle’s Nest will provide opportunities for students to get involved and make a difference on campus as well.
Students can donate to the pantry by stopping by the location or contacting the department.
Canned food, non-perishables or boxed food is preferred. To get involved, find more information or utilize the Eagle’s Nest’s services, contact the Department of Social Work by email SASW@usm.edu or its Facebook page.