Chowan University Food Pantry Celebrates Grand Opening and New Name
On Tuesday, January 31, the Chowan University Food Pantry celebrated its grand opening in its new location in Mark Hall. Along with the opening, its new name was unveiled: Chowan University Murf’s Food Pantry. In attendance to celebrate this accomplishment were Chowan faculty, staff, and students, along with Murfreesboro Mayor Hal Thomas and representatives from Hertford County Office of Aging, Food Bank of the Albemarle, Enviva, Camp-Younts Foundation, ECU Health, Roanoke Chowan Christian Women’s Job Corp, Edenton Presbyterian Church, Rotary and Walmart.
During the open house, Co-Presidents of the Chowan University Honors College Association presented a check for $1,000 for Murf’s Food Pantry. This donation came on behalf of 134 members who worked together to serve the community while raising funds to benefit their peers.
The Food Pantry was established in 2017 by Dr. Christina Rupsch, then Dean and current adjunct professor and Professor Emerita in Art, out of the needs she saw in her students. Through the years, it expanded, and upon her retirement in 2020, the department of Academic Success took over. A natural fit, the department of three now collects and maintains the inventory for the distribution and maintenance of the products.
Since Academic Success began overseeing the pantry in 2020, over 1,000 student orders, have been fulfilled. Last fall, orders doubled from the previous semester. Recognizing that student need was greater than immediate resources, Academic Success staff sought support from larger and well-established organizations. In spring 2022, Academic Success reached out to partner with the Food Bank of the Albemarle. “We began working to meet the requirements to partner, obtaining donations for a refrigerator and freezer and the annual membership fee,” shared Syble Shellito. “Through generous donations, the Food Pantry has sustained itself since its inception, and again many donors have come together to support the new partnership by providing donations needed to meet the partnership requirements.”
In the new location of Robert Marks Hall Room 216, Murf’s Food Pantry, which has previously only kept dry goods, personal hygiene products, cleaning aids, and snacks, has expanded immensely. Through a donation from the Camp-Younts Foundation of a new industrial-sized refrigerator and freezer, it can now offer fresh and frozen foods. This donation also aided in meeting the requirement for refrigeration and freezing for partnership with the Food Bank of the Albemarle.
Through the new partnership, The Food Bank of the Albemarle will deliver fresh produce, frozen foods, and fresh/frozen meats at .04 per pound, which is covered by generous monetary donations to the food pantry from employees and the community. They also provide training on food safety, inventory management, civil rights (access), and networking to related grant information. Additionally, the Food Bank provides a connection to the Emergency Fund Assistance Program (TFAP).
While Pioneer Catering does a wonderful job of providing meals for our students, there are needs outside of the meal plans. College students are hungry outside of traditional cafeteria hours. The pantry provides snacks and supplemental meals for students outside of hours and commuting students, not on the plan. Another benefit of expanding the pantry is to assist International students unable to go home during academic breaks when the budgeted meal plan is not available.
Access Murf’s Food Pantry there is at no cost to Chowan University students. To access Murf’s Food Pantry, students simply drop in during Murf’s Food Pantry business hours of Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 5 pm in Marks Hall 216.
Those wishing to make monetary donations to Chowan University Murf’s Food Pantry may direct them to the Office of Advancement at One University Place, Murfreesboro, NC 27855. While the new partnership is making great strides in filling the food needs, the need for supplies such as paper, pens, notebooks, and personal hygiene items are still in great need. Coordination for those donations should be directed to Syble Shellito, Director of Academic Success, at email@example.com.