Ignite Opens First Food Pantry on Campus
Ignite Norfolk Ministry, along with the help and support of ODU, opened the first food pantry on campus. Brandon Robbins, pastor of Ignite, welcomed a small crowd at the grand opening on Oct. 4. Don Stansberry, Dean of Students and Associate Vice President, spoke next about the need for the pantry and praising the leadership of Ignite and ODU. Once the ribbon was cut, guests were welcomed inside to tour the facility.
“We know our students are skipping meals because they have to pay a bill or buy a book or need toothpaste. So they are making choices and many times those choices are skipping meals or making meals out of ramen noodles or hot dogs, sometimes those are not the best meals,” said Stansberry.
He went on to praise the hard work of Robbins, Ignite Ministry and the university to open the pantry and addressing the issue of student hunger.
“I challenge you to be part of a food drive, to volunteer here at the pantry, to give a donation if you’re able and encourage others to do that. Because this pantry’s success lies on all of us together,” Stansberry stated, ending his speech.
Robbins went on thanking the numerous people and organizations that have worked on getting the pantry started. Robbins also introduced Patrick Martin, Ignite Ministry’s student intern from ODU, who helped get the pantry running. Martin opened with a quote, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one. Here at Ignite, that is our mission.” Martin went on the stress the pantry’s openness to anyone in need at ODU.
“We have done a lot over the last year and worked really close with the university to bring this together. To be able to bring together students, faculty, and staff to make sure that no body has to go hungry at ODU,” Robbins stated.
According to Robbins, the issue of student hunger was brought to his attention by a non-profit organization Through HIS Hands. For the past year, Robbins and Ignite Ministry have been working with ODU’s student and community engagement offices and the Foodbank of Southwest Virginia to get the project up and running. An informal survey showed 1 in 4 students at ODU have some type of food insecurity.
Robbins emphasized the pantry is “for students by students.” Emily Eddins, the associate director of leadership and student involvement, has worked closely with Ignite helping with the pantry.
“ODU engineers redid the air conditioning and heating,” Eddin said, “along with a Martin Luther King Day of service where students came in and cleaned up the building, along with painting.” She also spoke of the large involvement of the sororities and fraternities on campus that collected over 4600 cans for the pantry last spring.
The pantry is open to students, faculty and staff with an ODU ID. The food is based on a point system. Each individual is given 50 points and a bag. 25 more points are given for each person in a family, up to a total of 125 points. The pantry has large wire racks to display the available food. Each can of vegetables and fruits are worth five points. Proteins such as peanut butter, beans, and canned meat are also worth five points. Grains, such as pasta and rice, range between five to ten points. There is also a grab-n-go section that includes boxed dinners worth 10 points, but they are limited to three items. There is also a free rack, with a limit of two items, which include marshmallows, pop-tarts, and other snacks. Each bag can provide three to four meals for an individual.
The pantry accepts monetary and food donations, and will be open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m.