Civic Engagement

Oglethorpe food pantry continues to grow, gain support

Campus food pantry entrance/doorAfter discovering that more than 35% of students were facing food insecurity, Oglethorpe launched Petey’s Pantry, a student-led and donation-funded campus food pantry, in fall 2021.

The pantry’s primary goal is to provide students with a safe and sustainable environment for receiving good quality and healthy items for free, regardless of income. Petey’s Pantry provides supplies ranging from food, such as fruit and meat proteins, to personal care items, like laundry detergent and deodorant. Petey’s Pantry ensures all students are offered the necessary supplies to help maintain a healthy and happy experience at Oglethorpe. 

The pantry was formed by a subcommittee of the Student Government Association and with the assistance of faculty and staff, including Dr. Matthew Wild, core lecturer and service learning coordinator, and Students Affairs and DEI staff. Natasha Byrd, DPT, associate director of student wellness, has served as the pantry advisor since it opened. 

“There are so many folks that have been a part of the group in general that have just been wonderfully talented in imagining what [the food pantry] can be and how we can serve students and make sure that they’re supported,” said Dr. Byrd.

Campus food pantry new refrigerator

The pantry has partnered with Swipe Out Hunger, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending college student hunger. With the help of Swipe Out Hunger and their collaboration with LG Electronics, Oglethorpe’s pantry recently added two new refrigerators. The university even received a $700 grant from LG Electronics to stock the refrigerators with healthy and nutritious food options for students.

In addition to providing healthy food options, the pantry accommodates students’ dietary restrictions and allergies, and is expanding to include vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, kosher, and halal options. Petey’s Pantry recently partnered with the Muslim Student Association to address Muslim students’ dietary needs. For Ramadan, the pantry has adjusted its hours to ensure they’re inclusive of all students and their religious beliefs. When placing an order, students have the ability to give additional details about what accommodations they may need.

Since its launch, more than 450 orders have been packaged and approximately 40 volunteers have helped maintain the pantry. Jakeb Sanders ’23 helped start the organization and served as a volunteer from fall 2021 to spring 2022 and now works as a pantry manager.

“[My favorite part about volunteering] is being able to leave an impact and a legacy at Oglethorpe before I leave and see the food pantry flourish on my way out,” said Sanders.

Oglethorpe and the surrounding Atlanta community have supported the pantry in both monetary donations and donated items. For this year’s MLK Day Of Service, more than 400 items were donated and on OU Giving Day more than $1,200 was raised to support the effort. Petey’s Pantry also is the benefactor of this year’s “Seniors for Students” fundraising campaign, which kicked off at the Class of 2023’s 100 days to graduation celebration. In addition, the Atlanta Foundation donated $2500 to serve as an incentive for the senior class to match their gift as well. 

Both Sanders and Dr. Byrd encouraged students learn more about food insecurity and reach out if they need assistance. All Oglethorpe students enrolled in the current semester can place an order for items they need. Any students needing support can fill out the request form or contact the pantry at [email protected]. 

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