JOHNSON CITY – More than a decade ago, members of the East Tennessee State University community identified a need.
They wanted students and members of the campus community to have a place to receive food, hygiene products and other materials when needed.
Almost a year later, Bucky’s Food Pantry was born. And since 2012, the pantry has distributed nearly 5,000 boxes and bags of food.
“Bucky’s Food Pantry is an expression of a core ETSU value that ‘people come first, are treated with dignity and respect and are encouraged to achieve their full potential,’” said Dr. Mike Smith, retired chair of Social Work. “We strive to meet the spirit of that sentiment with every person we work with at the pantry.”
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the pantry. To celebrate the occasion, the university is highlighting the mission and purpose, some of the history, ways to receive help and opportunities to assist the organization.
Mission and purpose
The pantry’s mission is straightforward: diminish, and hopefully end, food insecurity for the ETSU community. The group provides a range of products – food and hygiene, as well as coats and other clothing – in a “confidential and respectful” manner, said Chuck Patton, chair of Bucky’s Food Pantry advisory committee.
Education is also important. The group aims to better inform students, faculty and staff not only of the resources available at ETSU but about the needs that exist in the community.
After formally opening in 2012, the pantry was initially located at the Ballad Health Athletic Center, known then as the Mini-Dome. As the pantry grew, it moved its base of operation to one of its three present locations in 2016: 325 Treasure Lane, near the Buccaneer Ridge apartments.
Student workers, as well as faculty and staff volunteers, have worked to process food and other requests since the pantry was formed.
“Our students do so much to keep both sites running as does our site coordinators Amy Deel at the Culp site and Massy Useni at the Buc Ridge site,” Patton said.
The second location opened in the D.P. Culp Student Center last year, and the ETSU Kingsport campus now has a distribution center.
How to receive help
The ETSU Community – students, faculty, staff, alumni or retirees – should apply online at etsu.edu/foodpantry/forms/request.php. Community members not affiliated with the university and those without an active ETSU email address should call the pantry at 439-2825 for help.
Volunteers respond to a request within 48 hours.
You can also stop by one of the physical locations to complete an application.
Ways to assist
The pantry keeps an updated list online of needed items, from breakfast bars to rice. Volunteers are also needed to donate their time, and the pantry offers the opportunity to give monetarily, too.
All this information and more is located at etsu.edu/foodpantry.
“We are always in need of donations and volunteers,” Patton said. “Bucky’s Food Pantry does so much good for the university community and we want to keep that going.”