Students at the Northeast Campus of Tulsa Community College (TCC) may now turn to the Northeast Fuel Pantry (NFP) for food assistance.
As the March Madness Food Drive Week ended, the gathered donations of dry and refrigerated goods, toiletries, household supplies, and clothing served as an opportunity for the food insecure students of TCC. An open house on April 8 was the precursor for the official grand reopening of the NFP in the Fall 2022 semester.
Troy Dunbar, Student Life program coordinator, offered a tour of the facilities. He provided information about the various rooms of the pantry and explained his vision for the future.
The entrance opened to a lobby that Dunbar explained should be inviting to students in their time of need. On a table there was a basket of snacks, as well as fresh fruit, such as oranges and bananas. Students can also access a coffee machine. The art on the walls had phrases such as “Today is a Fresh Start” and “Dare to Dream.”
Dunbar pointed at the newly added desktop computer and explained that students will be able to access city-wide databases for local food banks. Oftentimes resources may prove difficult for students to locate outside the campus, and he hopes this addition to NFP will help bridge the gap in assistance.
NFP on average assists 15 students a month, but during the pandemic the number had fallen. Dunbar expects with the opening of the new pantry, “the numbers will soar.” He explained that the idea for the March Madness Food Drive came from the executive team of the Student Government Association (SGA). The food drive started in the middle of March and ended on April 8 with the open house.
“Our role is to help our students be successful in and out of the classroom. If helping a student [or students to] overcome their food insecurity and it allows them to concentrate on schoolwork, then we, as an institution will be successful,” Dunbar said.
Through the hallway, the students may enter a few rooms reserved for several types of goods. The first room houses the dry and canned goods displayed on industrial shelves, allowing students access to everything from dried mashed potato mix to canned beans.
In the next room stood a refrigerator that housed various refrigerated donations and a chest freezer. Dunbar said, “We get [refrigerated items] from the Eastern Oklahoma Food Bank…We can actually go shopping at the food bank and pick up these perishable items and bring them to our campuses.” The refrigerated items include vegetables, milk, eggs, and sometimes cheese.
The following room was for toiletries, and students can get female personal products, diapers, shampoo, among other items. Baby products are there to help students who are parents get the aid they need and be able to focus on their studies.
As Dunbar moved to the clothing and home goods room, the program coordinator grew excited. This brand-new concept of the NFP included a table that displayed T-shirts, undergarments, and socks that students in need could receive. The room also had shelves that will house donated home appliances. He said, “We’re trying to get folks to donate things like small toasters or can opener[s]…” Students who move out to an apartment and might not have enough money to start living may use these resources and amenities to their advantage.
“Set of flatware…or any kind of small household items that are in good working condition [NPF] will accept,” Dunbar said about the home goods room.
To Dunbar, the NFP will be the model for the expansion of fuel pantries on the other three campuses. As he explained, “We will have our official ‘Grand Reopening of the Northeast Campus Fuel Pantry’ sometime in late August or early September.”
Dunbar asked people to donate proteins, pastas, and toiletries as they are the items in highest demand. Students may donate or inquire about food or toiletry assistance by coming to the Student Life office at TCC Northeast Campus.