This week the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith officially renamed its needs pantry in honor of its popular dean of students at the unanimous request of the UAFS Student Government Association. SGA voted to rename the food and necessities pantry the “Dave Stevens Lion Pride Pantry” in April.
UAFS Chancellor Terisa Riley said, “All of the individuals who participated in making a needs pantry, not just a food pantry, for the students on our campus have worked very hard, and every time we can help other Lions, we are more successful.”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pantry has served 450 food sacks to university students and their families.
This spring, the SGA recognized Stevens’ vital role in the success of current resource programs available to students on campus, such as the Lion Pride Food Pantry, the Grab-and-Go Sack Lunch Program (which is temporarily suspended due to concerns over COVID-19), and the Student Emergency Fund. They also noted Stevens’ history of going above and beyond what is required of him to help all students.
“The Dave Stevens Lion Pride Pantry is now able to provide so much for our students, specifically during this pandemic,” SGA President Claire Hollenbeck said. “The SGA could not have gotten the food pantry off the ground without the dedication and support of one of our wonderful advisors, Dr. Dave Stevens.”
“Our students are sacrificing a lot to be a part of this campus. All of us felt as if students needed a place they can achieve their goals without having to worry about where their next meal is going to come from,” Stevens said. “I am tremendously grateful to the Student Government Association.”
The pantry, which first opened as a blessings box in 2019, continues to evolve. At the beginning of the fall semester, it provided backpacks to students. Plans are in development to provide warm coats to students this winter and Thanksgiving meal boxes for students before they head home over the holiday, said Meighan Pendergrass, director of UAFS Campus Recreation and Wellness.
“When we opened this morning, there were six people waiting outside the door for me,” Pendergrass explained. “We gave out 10 backpacks, 12 food sacks, and we will continue to give more out because just like Dr. Riley said, this will truly be a needs closet.”
More than 41 percent of college students experience food insecurity each month. Further, 44 percent worry about running out of food. And nearly half of students at four-year institutions are worried about running out of food, according to a 2019 survey from the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, reported as “College, and University Basic Needs Insecurity: A National #RealCollege Survey Report.”
To make a gift to the pantry, you can visit giving.UAFS.edu.