Campus food pantry addresses food insecurity


The pantry is located in Room 244 open Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Blackburn Science Building. (Jill Smith/The News)

Jill Smith, Staff Writer

Food insecurity plagues 40% of college students, according to a study from the Murray State is one of many universities hoping to alleviate this problem through an on-campus food pantry.

The Racers Helping Racers food pantry opened Feb. 14, 2014, with the intent to  help students succeed in college. The food pantry is open to all students.

Curris Center and Student Life Director Re’Nita Avery said food insecurity is a problem at Murray State. 

“We have a lot of different students that come in,” Avery said. “You have those students that are regulars that come in, and then you have those students that come in that didn’t know about the pantry on campus.”

Avery said the pantry offers students a variety of items including breakfast items, ready-to-eat meals, vegetables and toiletries. 

 The pantry is currently in need of ready-to-eat meals and breakfast items. 

“Our biggest hot commodity items are breakfast, so cereal and granola bars, and ready-to-eat meals, for sure,” Avery said. “We have been out of those for a while.”

For those interested in donating, contact the leader of your student organization. Avery said student organizations  bring in a lot of donations. 

“We really appreciate student organizations,” Avery said. “They come in and raise food for us, so that’s where students can actually help with raising food for the pantry.”

Avery said student organizations can contact the Curris Center and Student Life office about organizing a food drive and finding out which items are needed. Once in contact with the office, organizations will then receive a Google document of needed items. 

Donations also come from off campus sources such as alumnai and community members, Avery said. 

“We receive donations from alumni,” Avery said. “They might see it in the parent’s weekly email, so we have community members that give to the food pantry, and Needline which still gives to the pantry when we are running low on items.” 

The Murray-Calloway County Needline is a social welfare program, offering food initiatives and other need-based programs.

The Curris Center and Student Life Office promote the food pantry around the University and in weekly newsletters. 

“We put it in the Greek Weekly, which is a big population of the students here on campus, and we’ll also sporadically post on the Racer Bulletin,” Avery said. “If there’s people that don’t know about it, I’m trying to see if we can put [flyers] in the residential colleges.” 

Avery said the time of the year can impact the number of students visiting the pantry. 

“Usually, toward the end of the semester, we see a bit of an increase, and then just a steady flow throughout the semester,” Avery said.

Since January, the pantry has seen 136 students utilize the service, and another 28 students utilize the curbside pick-up service. 

According to, the food pantry offers curbside pickup for students on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m to 2 p.m.

Curbside pickup began during the COVID-19 shutdown to ensure students had access to the food pantry.

“They will fill out a form online and tell us the items they need,” Avery said.  “We will box up the items for them, and they will call us, and then we will take the box down to their car.”

Avery said a lot of students are using the curbside pickup service—about 103 students per month. 

Students visiting the pantry for the first time will be required to fill out an application and returning students will fill out an abbreviated form. 

Students can visit the Racers Helping Racers food pantry located in  Blackburn Science Building Room 244 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students can also visit Pickup  to sign up for curbside pick-up.