Two years ago, when Bridgette Stewart, M. Ed. became Chief Wellness Officer, she noticed whenever someone overseeing the food pantry would leave the program, the program would die with the vacancy.
“The food pantry, however, evolved and needed a home,” said Stewert. “Whoever is over that space if they retire, if they leave the university for whatever reason, the program doesn’t just fade away. Especially since the need still exists.”
One of the changes made by Stewart, who also serves as Director of The Center of Integrative Wellness, has been to house the food pantry under the direction of The Center. The Center oversees the pantry in partnership with the student organization known as Students Helping to Influence Fulfill and Transform (S.H.I.F.T). S.H.I.F.T is an organization for Community Health and Wellness Majors, and is run by Jamie Brandenburg, M.P.H., LPN, DE.
“Underneath the umbrella of Howl Against Hunger, is our Basic Needs Center,” says Stewart. “The food pantry became the Basic Needs Center to reflect the fact that food was no longer the primary item dispensed when aid was requested.”
Stewart understood and initiated the need for elevation and revitalization of the term food pantry. The pantry was no longer just a food supplier, but a supplier of hygiene goods, toiletries, personal care items, academic supplies, and there are plans to ultimately broaden inventory to include baby items as well.
“It takes a village to run and maintain the Basic Needs Center,” says Stewart. “We work very closely with Student Affairs. Dr. Jennifer Jordan Ed.D. Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, partners with The Center in all things wellness. The Center is able to accomplish so much more with Dr. Jordan’s guidance and input.”
“When a need is identified the C.A.R.E. Team reaches out to The Center to assist with aid for students in need,” continues Stewart. “Dr. Lakiesa Rawlinson, Ph.D. Associate Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students, heads the Campus Awareness Response and Evaluation (C.A.R.E.) Team.”
Students can be referred to the Basic Needs Center by any member of the UWG community.
The Basic Needs Center is housed inside the Health Services building. Hours of operation are in the process of being re-evaluated to be more inclusive of the needs of the student body. Students can anonymously contact The Center of Integrative Wellness for shopping access, a 917 is required should the need arise.
The Basic Needs Center Lite is located within The Momentum Center. It is stocked with a limited supply of items students can access upon request during the hours of Momentum Center operation (8 a.m. – 5 p.m.).
There is also recovered prepared food available for pick up from Wolf Haven. Wolf Haven is sponsored by the Wolves Don’t Waste student organization. Refrigerators are located on the first floor of the Campus Center behind the rock wall. Food is available for the UWG community. All meals are packaged and sealed with use-by dates. Microwaves and silverware are available in the TLC building lobby.
UWG is committed to meeting and supporting the basic wellness needs of its community. Growing partnerships among UWG departments form a village, providing a positive experience and enabling students to function and thrive in a healthy environment.