McNeese State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences faculty, staff and students are helping to combat student food insecurity through the on-campus food pantry.
The food pantry was started in 2019 as a class project in professor of agricultural sciences and dean of the college Chip LeMieux’s Current Topics in Animal Science class.
“In this class, students are directed to find a current agriculture-related issue to research and write proposals for solutions,” says LeMieux. “Students chose to investigate food insecurity on university campuses and found through their research that there was a need for a food pantry here at McNeese.”
Students created a proposal to open the food pantry and then presented the proposal to McNeese President Dr. Daryl Burckel and other senior staff members. Food collection began in the summer and fall of 2019 and the pantry opened at the end of the 2019 fall semester.
Now, agricultural sciences students are continuing to collect items for students who are staying in residence halls during the coronavirus stay-at-home order.
For spring break, the McNeese Foundation has given funds to keep Rowdy’s Dining Hall open, which is normally closed during the holiday, and is providing free meals to residence hall students who have a meal plan. Still, says LeMieux, there was concern that the dining hall’s reduced hours would negatively impact the student population.
The college partnered with the Department of Psychology to pool resources to make sure the shelves are full for the break. Agricultural education student Brennan Uzee and pre-veterinary medicine students Joshua Lessigne and Kayla Cassidy were on hand to accept donations from the community.
“There are many obstacles for students, so we definitely don’t want food to be one of those. There is nothing more important or essential than providing nutrients for our McNeese students,” says LeMieux. “The College of Agricultural Sciences students, faculty and staff recognize there is a need to provide this service on campus and we are here to make this happen. This activity falls in line with our goals to produce caring and active citizens in our community. Since this is a student-driven project, I think we are on the right track.”
Any McNeese student with a current ID may use the food pantry, which is located in Gayle Hall and is open Monday – Thursday from 8 a.m.-noon. Students should call the posted phone number for access.
To donate nonperishable food items or find out more information, contact LeMieux at firstname.lastname@example.org. For monetary donations, contact the McNeese Foundation at 337-475-5588.