By Debra Minor Wilson
Times West Virginian
Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community & Technical College take care of their own through the Nest Campus Food Bank.
Open Mondays and Thursdays from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. on the top floor of the campus library, it provides nonperishable goods to students in need, said coordinator Thelma Hutchins.
Nonperishable foods are needed, especially those that are ready to eat or can be prepared with minimal ingredients.
Flip-top cans are preferred, but all are accepted. Donations may be dropped off at the circulation desk during library hours of operation.
Students who need extra help with food supplies will be able to use The Nest by showing their student I.D. and filling out a form that will be kept confidential.
The most frequently used items include canned tuna and chicken, spaghetti sauce, peanut butter, canned fruits and vegetables, fruit cups, raisins, juice boxes, pasta, mac and cheese, crackers, cereal, instant oatmeal, Pop Tarts, granola bars, microwave popcorn and nonfrozen meals.
But all nonperishable food items will be glady accepted, Hutchins said.
The pantry is located on the top floor of the campus library and opened in the fall of 2012.
The Times West Virginian is collecting food in its annual Gift of Love food drive to support the pantry.
“We found that a lot of students have trouble finding food,” she said. “The library is a central place for kids to come. They’d tell us about the things they need. The staff started giving out peanut butter sandwiches, and it grew out of that.”
The food pantry is “pretty critical” for some of the students.
“I’ve heard them say they couldn’t make it without having access to the items we offer. They really don’t have enough money to buy food.
“A lot of people may not think about college students needing food. But they can be in more dire circumstances than you imagine. Some have no money to buy food with, but this is a place they can come to.”
Students help themselves to what they need, she said.
“Sometimes we don’t have a lot — we don’t always have a lot of the things they would like to have — but there’s always something here,” she said.
“The library staff staffs the food pantry for the most part,” she said.
“We’ve discussed moving, but no one has volunteered to take it in. We would not be available in another building. They would have to find others to oversee it.”
The pantry is in pretty tight quarters, she said. Nonperishable items are stored in another room.
“Sometimes we get apples or oranges, but they go quickly,” she said.
The student body also helps the food bank, she said.
“They have several food drives on campus. The sororities and fraternities had a contest last year and brought box after enormous box of all kinds of things they collected.”
Other regular contributors help the Nest Food Bank continue serving the students.
“Food drives are our lifeblood. We have wonderful folks who donate money and that lets us buy things we don’t get through the drives.
“The drives furnish the majority of the things wer give to the students. And we appreciate everything,” Hutchins said.
To help the Nest Campus Food Bank and all the other food pantries the Times West Virginian is collecting food for, here’s what you can do:
• Individuals are encouraged to bring boxes or bags of canned goods or nonperishable food items to our business office at 300 Quincy St. We will be collecting these items Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Thursday, Feb. 13.
• Businesses, schools or offices can set up satellite donation locations to collect items through Thursday, Feb. 13. We’ll even come and pick up all items collected.
• Community-service organizations, schools, school programs, churches or civic groups can take this on as a project. Again, anything you collect, we’ll pick up to be distributed with the other donations.
For more information on the Gift of Love, call the Times West Virginian’s newsroom at 304-367-2540.
Email Debra Minor Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.