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Tiger Pantry program adjusts its operation to help students

The Tiger Pantry, which operates throughout the year at the University of Memphis, has extended its hours and adjusted in other ways to help students in need during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Tristan McKenzie, who serves as a graduate assistant case manager in the Student Outreach and Support Program, said providing students with access to food and care is the program’s number one goal.

“We wanted students to still have food because we know that if students are food-insecure beforehand, they will still be food insecure now,” McKenzie said. “We made sure despite the coronavirus to accommodate them. It is essential that we attend to their preferences because of allergies or other reasons.”

The Tiger Pantry program serves students that may not have the means to obtain food on a consistent basis. And while in-class teaching has given way to on-line learning for the rest of the semester, UofM students can still pick up their food packages inside of the University Center within the Atrium on the first floor.

Students access the Tiger pantry by going online and applying to receive assistance. Last Monday (March 16th) in response to COVID-19, the Tiger Pantry moved from a choice-pantry model to a bag-pickup model, putting together bags and boxes with 1-2 weeks of food for any student who needs it.

Gilbert Taylor, a junior psychology major at the U of M, said the Tiger Pantry program “has come through for me in so many ways. …I really have not been able to work as much because of school, and I have definitely been hungry a few times.”

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Taylor’s employer recently shut down operations until further notice. Other students The New Tri-State Defender talked with in reporting this story also said they were unable to work because their places of employment had shut down to minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Taylor said everyone faces struggles in life and that there’s nothing wrong with using assistance from others.

“I feel like there should be no shame in admitting you need help,” Taylor said. “We all do not have the same things, and there’s no shame in that.”

(UofM students can sign up for a food bag and schedule a pick-up by clicking on the link here.)

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