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SAU fights food scarcity with Mulerider Pantries and more

by Joshua Turner | January 26, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
The Mulerider Pantry in Burns-Harsch Hall sits in the lobby. (Joshua Turner / Banner News)

The Mulerider Pantries have been installed in Residence Halls throughout the Southern Arkansas University Campus.

Kathryn Gean, Director of SAU+AmeriCorps VISTA, said, " Painting was a two-day process. It was another day just to distribute them around campus and fill. We had a lot of help from Housing. They had them all on a flatbed and just took us around campus took them around campus and we'd follow them in the golf cart and fill them. . The challenge now is going to be keeping them full because this is gonna be you know, they're gonna be popular."

Gean is searching for any groups or businesses willing to help sponsor the Pantries or donate to the Mulerider Market.

"I haven't had anybody adopt a month, but I've had a lot of physical donations canned goods and so forth, and several monetary donations," said Gean.

Gean said, "Stuff that goes the fastest is not the canned good. It's not the green beans as you can imagine. It's the mac and cheese and well that Ramen."

Gean is working to help change that too. She is working with students to create recipes that include common items students can get from the Mulerider Market and Mulerider Pantries.

QR codes are also getting attached to the Pantries that will allow students to let staff know when one needs to be restocked.

"Statistically in Arkansas over 30% of college students struggle with food scarcity and 40% have incomes less than 25,000 and 20% have incomes less than 15,000. Which is hard to imagine being able to live and eat. "You can't even focus on what you need to focus on here when you don't have food in your stomach. We don't want our students to have to fight to survive. We want them to focus." said Gean.

According to Gean SAU is also finding other ways to help fight food scarcity on campus.

Refrigerators have been installed in most Residence Halls to allow students to refrigerate leftovers.

A goal Gean has to help fight food scarcity includes packaging up unserved cafeteria food and flash-freezing it into meals for students to heat up later.

The Mulerider Market also provides hygiene products including feminine hygiene products to students.

Off-campus a VISTA student has started a food pantry at The Boys and Girls Club to help the children in Magnolia with food scarcity according to Gean.

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