PRCC opens ‘food pantry’ for students

Published 4:10 am Friday, August 17, 2018

On Monday, Pearl River Community College’s Poplarville campus hosted a ribbon cutting for the new food pantry facility, The Market.

The Market is a free food pantry for students, staff, and faculty with food insecurity. Students, both commuter and dorming, can access The Market with a current PRCC ID. It is completely free and its visitors are kept anonymous.

Carol Williams, Maghan James, Dr. Adam Breerwood, Candace Harper, and Dr. Martha Smith, participated in the ribbon cutting and several faculty and staff were also there to show support for this opening.

The Market was created in just four short months from inception to grand opening. Williams, PRCC’s Public Relations/Marketing Coordinator, had come across information on the percentage of students that were left hungry at community colleges and it inspired her. She emailed Dr. Adam Breerwood, President of PRCC, only one week later, on April 16, and asked permission to pursue the possibility of a food pantry on the Poplarville campus.

She felt her integral work with Poplarville’s Backpack Buddies program gave her a unique opportunity to use her knowledge of non-profits to create something that could make a difference at PRCC. Breerwood gave Williams the go-ahead to begin the process and it never slowed down.

By May 16, the building had been chosen to house The Market and the transition was all but complete. The last step was filling The Market with food items. PRCC’s Rotary Club made an initial donation of $500 to get the program started. Beyond that, staff, faculty, administrators, and community members have all contributed to making The Market a possibility. The Market holds not only food but also essentials such as laundry detergent, binders, and a few backpacks. A college student’s purchase of these items often takes the place of a meal.

Four months, one email, and a lot of hard work later PRCC is the only community college in the state of Mississippi to be a registered member of the College and University Food Bank Alliance. This allows them to gain resources for funding and much more.

The Market is located in what was once PRCC’s police station and so now is named The Station. The station not only houses The Market but also the Wildcat Career Closet. The Wildcat Career Closet, which was stared one year ago by PRCC’s Bookstore, Office of Recruitment, and Business, Marketing and Management program, gives students access to professional clothing they can use for interviews and presentations. Dorm students can visit The Market every other week and receive five items and commuter students can visit once a week and get three days worth of food.

“I’m excited that Pearl River will be able to offer another resource to our students to help with their success. Food insecurity inhibits concentration, which hopefully the addition of The Market will eliminate among our students,” Williams said.

Donations for The Market should be non-perishable food items. Those interested in making a donation to this program should contact Williams at 601-549-2187.