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News: Roane State takes its food pantry on the road for students in need, Knox County distribution set for Oct. 21
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News: Roane State takes its food pantry on the road for students in need, Knox County distribution set for Oct. 21

Holly Hanson loading canned food into a car

October 16, 2020

By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing an increase in food insecurity issues, Roane State is taking the next step in making sure students have adequate nutrition.

The community college is piloting a new program called “Food Pantry on the Go,” where a mobile food pantry will offer a wide assortment of non-perishable food items, along with microwavable ”eat now” foods.

On Wednesday, October 21, a Roane State shuttle will be parked in the front parking lot of Roane State’s Knox County Center for Health Sciences, located at 132 Hayfield Road in Knoxville, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

“We’ll be setting up tables Farmer’s Market style for students to ‘shop,’” said Dr. Lisa Steffensen, Roane State’s Dean of Students. “We’re excited to bring the Raider Pantry to students living in or near Knox County.”

Such items as canned foods, peanut butter, jellies, sauces, powdered milk, fruits, vegetables, potatoes, cereals, snacks and noodles will be available.

“We’ll even provide shopping bags for your selected goodies,” Steffensen said.

She said the event is free and open to Roane State students from every campus. Students just have to know their student identification number, or “R number,” to take part.

Roane State has dedicated areas for food pantries at six of its 10 locations, and the college has been addressing the issue of food insecurity among students and their families for some time.

The college’s biggest campuses in Harriman, Oak Ridge and Cumberland County have the most extensive food pantries. Steffensen said this pilot program is intended for students who may have trouble getting to those sites. If the October 21 event goes well, “We may have future events at other campuses,” Steffensen said.

Dr. Chris Whaley, president of Roane State, said more than a year ago that statistics showed at least 40 percent of students in higher education experience some form of food insecurity. Whaley launched the program to put food pantries on Roane State campuses.

Additional information on the RSCC student food pantries can be found online at roanestate.edu/foodpantry. The nonprofit Roane State Foundation accepts financial contributions for the pantries. For more details, call the Foundation at (865) 882-4507.

The Roane State Foundation is a separate 501(c)(3) corporation governed by an independent board of directors and established to provide financial support for Roane State students and programs. The Foundation seeks to enhance community awareness of the college, to secure private contributions and bequests and to manage monies or properties given to the Foundation. For more information, visit www.roanestate.edu/foundation or email Foundationdept@roanestate.edu.

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