New campus meal bank adds to food insecurity options

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Story by Lindsey Coleman, Contributing writer

Starting Spring 2017, Murray State Dining Services is planning to offer a meal bank program, which will be available to any Murray State student.

“Dining would donate a certain number of meals into a meal bank that would then be available to students who are struggling with food insecurity,” said Paula Amols, director of Dining Services.

Amols said that one idea for filling the meal bank is for students to donate their unused swipes. Amols said many students’ meal swipes go to waste, and this program would be a way for them to be redeemed.

Amols said Dining Services wants students to feel comfortable to use this program.

“We don’t necessarily want to have to ask them questions that might be intrusive,” Amols said. “We don’t want someone to feel uncomfortable asking for the meals and having to go through much.”

Amols said she wants students to know about all the food insecurity resources available in Murray so that when the students run into hard times, they will know where to turn.

“Maybe all of those resources combined with some meals will be enough to help those who need it,” she said.

Amols said the meal bank is still in the works, and the idea will be further explored at the Student Government Association, or SGA, meeting on Sept. 14.

Clint Combs, SGA president, said the program is now being discussed within the SGA.

“The intention of the program isn’t to give a free meal plan, but to help supplement students, if they are going through a tough time or something of that nature,” Combs said. “It is our hope that this will be a short-term solution for students until they can get back on their feet.

Combs said the SGA will be advising Dining Services as the project gets started.

“This project continues to show the dedication our staff and faculty have for students at Murray State University,” Combs said.

EXISTING FOOD ASSISTANCE

  • RACERS HELPING RACERS

The on-campus food pantry started two years ago as a partnership with Need Line, a citywide food pantry in Murray. Need Line provides the food in the Racers Helping Racers food pantry.

Racers Helping Racers is located in Blackburn room 244, and it is open to all students with a Murray State ID. The operating hours are on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Students can come to the pantry and get meals once a week and get whatever they need. Students can call (270) 809-4499 if they need food from the pantry at a time other than those listed above.

Re’Nita Avery-Meriwether, director of student life, is the head of Racers Helping Racers.

“It is a service that we do provide for students,” Avery-Meriwether said. “So we’re just here to help students in their college experience.”

  • NEED LINE

According to Need Line’s brochure, “Need Line, a Community and Church Cooperative Ministry, is a nonprofit social service agency of Murray and Calloway County, Kentucky. It exists to give assistance to persons in need.”

One of their programs is a food pantry, which Murray State students are welcomed to use in times of emergency. For more information on Need Line, call (270) 753-6333, or visit their office at 509 North 8th St. in Murray.

  • SOUP FOR THE SOUL

Soup for the Soul is a local soup kitchen, which serves dinner every Monday through Friday from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. All community members are welcome to eat for free, although a small donation is encouraged. For more information about Soup for the Soul, call (270) 759-0800, or stop by the soup kitchen on the Court Square at 411 Maple St. in Murray.