Student food pantry Smiddy’s Cupboard held its grand opening Aug 30 at Cantrell Hall.
The campus food pantry and emergency housing service began in concept in 2017 when the Committee on Student Hunger and Homelessness started planning began planning for a no-questions-asked pantry for any student who may find themselves experiencing food insecurity.
The concept grew to include helping students encountering homelessness.
“It’s important to me that our members feel whole and safe to do their best to study and participate in the Wise community and with each of our support this pantry will help achieve that,” UVa-Wise Chancellor Donna P. Henry said during Friday’s opening ceremony.
The actual pantry is located in the Housing Office on Cantrell’s first floor.
College Housing Director Josh Justice said the pantry will help address the pressures many students are experiencing in the current economy as they work toward their degrees,
“Many of our students have part-time of full-time jobs to help support themselves and make ends meet and they aren’t always able to focus on their academics,” Justice said.
Marcia Mitchell, college Student Services director and chair of the Committee on Student Hunger and Homelessness, said that Smiddy’s Cupboard not only fills a local need but is a reflection of a nationwide problem.
“We want to make sure students have access to the support and the resources they need,” Mitchell said. “It became very clear that out of the issue of homelessness comes the issue of hunger and food insecurity.”
“We know that food insecurity is more prevalent among first generation college students and we know that more than half of our students are first generation college students,” Mitchell said.
“I truly believe that Smiddy’s Cupboard speaks volumes to the committed kind culture that surrounds our campus, administrations, students, faculty, and staff,” said. Student Govermment Association President Gray Hamilton.
“On behalf of the Student Government Association, I would like to extend my our most sincere thank you to the committee for allowing us to be a part of this initiative,” Hamilton said.
Smiddy’s Cupboard is accepting donations of food that is college student centered , according to Justice. That means food that is not perishable as well as food items that can be prepared in a microwave oven.
Smiddy’s Cupboard also helps maintain a fund to help students who are experiencing homelessness and who cannot stay on campus. This fund will help students in cases of emergencies where campus housing will not suffice. In these cases, the fund may be drawn from to put a student up in a hotel.
Smiddy’s Cupboard also will be accepting donations of food and money at the First Friday Backyard BBQ event Sept. 7 at the Betty J. Gilliam Sculpture Garden between the Science Center and the Zehmer Building.
Monetary donations are also accepted. Please make all checks payable to UVa-Wise Foundation, 1 College Avenue, Wise, Va. 24293.