HARTSVILLE, S.C. (courtesy scnow.com) — With the installation of The Cobra Cupboard, Coker College has taken its commitment to helping its students a step further. The Cobra Cupboard provides students in need assistance whether fulltime or a day student.
According to Elizabeth Hubbard, content marketing specialist at Coker, nearly “20 percent of students at four-year colleges and universities experience food insecurity — or a lack of access to the amount and quality of food necessary for an active, healthy life” — as reported in a 2016 collaborative report from the College and University Food Bank Alliance, the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, the Student Government Resource Center, and the Student Public Interest Research Groups.
“It is, unfortunately, a nationwide problem that extends to our Coker community,” she said.
Students needs are changing, she said.
To help its students experiencing these issues, Coker’s residence life team launched The Cobra Cupboard food pantry in November. Students are able to apply to the program via an online application and, if approved, are allowed to visit the Cobra Cupboard twice a month, including the summer months.
Tymon Graham, Director of Residence Life, said they researched ways to best help students before starting the program this fall, collecting items first from faculty and staff. Once the word started to spread around campus, Graham said the cupboard was full by mid-October and ready to open Nov. 1.
Even though there is an application process, Graham said it is based somewhat on the honor system.
“This is another initiative we’re doing to ensure our students have all the resources they need to be successful,” said Kendrick Reed, Coordinator of Residence Life and the First-Year Experience at Coker College in release.
“We also seek recommendations and have faculty and staff, even students, refer other students to it,” said Graham.
He said they have partnered with the Student Success Center, which through its dialogue with students realized students are having trouble in this area and it can have an impact on their education.
So far, Graham said about 15 Coker students have sought help.
The Cobra Cupboard depends on donations for operation and accepts only non-perishable food items, said Hubbard. She said monetary donations and Walmart gift cards are also welcome, which allow staff to replenish the pantry with necessary items.
Coker students whose applications are approved are allowed to visit the cupboard twice a month. This includes the summer months. However, they must reapply each year they are students at Coker College.
Hubbard said they do not need to live on Coker’s campus to be eligible for The Cobra Cupboard.
“Some students, financially, can’t live on campus,” said Graham. “They just don’t have the funds to do that. And maybe the funds–the money that they have or that they make from working non-stop–allows them to pay their rent, but then they still have issues with food. So it’s open to all students who are enrolled.”
Hubbard said peanut butter, tuna, “mac and cheese,” instant oatmeal (individual packets) and granola bars are always in high demand.
Some of the other items needed to fill The Cobra Cupboard include canned chicken*, canned stew, pork and beans, soups, spaghetti sauce, canned vegetables, canned fruits, fruit cups, dried fruits, jelly, raisins, juice boxes; instant potatoes, rice, pasta, crackers, boxed meals; cereal, cereal bars, pancake mix, syrup, Pop Tarts, snack foods, microwave popcorn, Easy Mac, microwaveable non-frozen meals*; and basic necessities such as soap, shampoo, toilet paper, deodorant, and laundry detergent.
Donations can be dropped off at Coker’s Residence Life office, which is located upstairs in the Susanne G. Linville Dining Hall. The Cobra Cupboard is located directly across from Residence Life. To have donations picked up or for more information about The Cobra Cupboard, please contact Tymon Graham at firstname.lastname@example.org or 843-383-8360. Monetary donations are welcome and can be given online via Coker’s office of advancement (please note “Cobra Cupboard” in the “other” drop down menu when donating).