JSU Education program organizes food drive for Gamecock Market

Photo courtesy of Abigail Harrison

Abigail Harrison, News Editor

The College of Education and Professional Studies is hosting a food and hygiene drive from Nov. 8-19. The contributions collected from the event will be donated to the Gamecock Market, which is JSU’s campus food pantry.

According to Justin Parker, a coordinator of Gamecock Market, the program has been in service for four years, but it was renamed and expanded last year to provide more food, clothing, hygiene products, and other supplies to students and faculty who are in need. He said he was inspired to change the name JSU Food Pantry to Gamecock Market to reduce the stigma surrounding food assistance programs.

The food drive is asking for donations of food items such as canned and boxed food, hygiene products such as toilet paper and deodorant, and school supplies such as notebooks and pens. The Market is also in desperate need of items students can use to keep warm during winter such as blankets and jackets.

Students and faculty can donate their items in drop off boxes that have been placed in Romana Wood and Mason Hall. Students can place their donations in the boxes anytime before Nov. 19. The college is also hosting a one day event on Tuesday, Nov. 16 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Theron Montgomery Building Food Court.

Students and faculty are invited to come participate in the event where they can play games and win prizes. Several fun games will be set up, and a donation of three or more items is required to play the games. Those who donate more than five items will be entered into a raffle for a chance to win prizes. 

There is also a competition among the departments within the College of Education and Professional Studies. The department that has the most items donated will be awarded various prizes.

Madison McAllister is a junior majoring in Secondary Education ELA at JSU. She is part of a committee that helped organize the food drive, and she wants to encourage students to donate what they can.

“JSU is known as the Friendliest Campus in the South,” McAllister said. “What better way to show our hospitality than to support our peers that may need extra assistance during the semester.”

According to Parker, it is important that people participate in the drive because the program cannot function without donations.

“It’s all donation based, so without that we don’t have food to give,” said Parker. “Right now half the pantry is probably empty so that’s why we are looking for more donations.”

So far, the Education Program has already collected 150 items from the drive, according to Gena Christopher, adjunct instructor in the College of Education.

The event’s slogan is “You have to Maslow before you can Bloom,” which is based on the developmental theorists Abraham Maslow and Benjamin Bloom. According to Christopher, their theories on physiological needs are important to the Education Program because they signify how students’ basic needs of safety and security need to be fulfilled before they can be successful in their learning experiences.

“As a class, we believe that we must meet our students’ basic needs before we can expect them to think critically,” said Cristopher. “We know that our JSU community has many students who struggle, who are food insecure, or who lack support.”

Jade Swink, junior at JSU, is an example of one student who has utilized Gamecock Market during a time of need. Swink said that when she was running low on food this semester, she was able to fill out a form and receive a variety of food.

“It is so easy to run out of hygienic products or run out of food,” said Swink. “So I think it is really important to have something like this to where you don’t feel vulnerable because a lot of people don’t like asking for help.”

Swink told about a time when she was scared to ask for help, but she said Gamecock Market created a comfortable environment that helped her feel better about her situation.

One area Swink hopes to see the Market improve is in its advertisement efforts so that more students in need are made aware of and can utilize the program. Gamecock Market is aware of this problem and is working to find ways to make the pantry more accessible for students, according to Parker.

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