KENNESAW, Ga - A brand new food pantry on the Kennesaw State University campus. University officials said more of their students have been struggling to pay for food this year. Many lost their jobs during the pandemic.
All the food is donated and free to students.
"We function like a non-profit so everything that is given to us we turn around and give it to the students," said Marcy Stidum, the Director of the CARES program at KSU which provides food and temporary housing for students.
Stidum said she saw the need for food and basic necessities increase when the COVID-19 hit.
"Because of the pandemic, they can't find jobs, they still need a place to stay, they need food," said Stidum.
Phoebe Sanders is one of those students.
"I worked with an after-school program. When schools shut down, so did the after-school program which meant, so did my job," said Sanders.
She said after tuition, rent, and utilities, there's not much left over for food.
She's not alone.
"One in eight people are food insecure, they don't know where their next meal is coming from. During this pandemic, that number has gone to one in five, and that includes college students," said Felix Turner with Kroger.
Kroger stepped in to help. They spent tens of thousands of dollars to help KSU build a new food pantry, installing shelving, freezers, and refrigerators. They created a mini grocery store.
It's a big change from the tiny pantry they had in the back of a closet.
"It's really nice to stand back and say 'OK, I have that option or that option,'" said Sanders.
"My passion is for our students to have the dignity and the worth they deserve. they need to be able to shop, choose their own food," said Stidum.
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