The Blue Healer Pantry: A Safe Haven for BHSU Students in Need
The Blue Healer Pantry is a vital resource that provides much-needed support to the student community of BHSU. It is a welcoming and warm space that offers free food, toiletries, and cleaning supplies without the fear of being judged. As the name suggests, the pantry is a healing space where students can come to meet their basic needs and receive emotional support.
The pantry is located in its dedicated room, Campus Hub Room 200A, designed to create a comfortable and inviting atmosphere for the students. The new location provides a sense of privacy and security, ensuring that students can access the pantry's services without feeling uncomfortable or exposed.
The pantry is stocked with a wide variety of food items, including shelf-stable foods such as canned vegetables, fruits, and meats, breakfast items such as cereal and oatmeal, on-the-go items, and more. The pantry also has a range of toiletries such as shampoo, deodorant, sanitary products, and soap, as well as cleaning supplies. The pantry staff carefully selects these items to ensure that they meet the needs of the students.
The pantry is sustained by the Food Pantry Endowment and donations from BHSU faculty and staff who are committed to supporting the students. The pantry is run by Erica Dickerson, the coordinator of BASIC needs. She is a compassionate and empathetic staff member who is always ready to listen and provide support to the students. Erica plans to offer volunteer opportunities for students in the future, providing them with an opportunity to give back to the community.
“My goal is to offer students a safe space free of judgment,” says Erica, “where they can find supplies to take care of their basic needs and also receive support.”
Between August 2023 and January 2024, a total of 36 students accessed the campus pantry. All of them identified as female, and the majority were full-time students. Over half of the students stated that the pantry provided them with meals they would have otherwise gone without, and by utilizing the food pantry, they were able to use the money they saved to pay bills they couldn't have paid otherwise.
Three-quarters of the pantry users live on campus and over half of them reported that getting food from the pantry allowed them to focus more on class-related activities instead of worrying about food. All the students who used the pantry reported being treated with dignity and respect.
Most of the users utilized the pantry monthly, while only a few accessed it due to a financial emergency. The students appreciated that the pantry is set up for shopping instead of receiving pre-packaged boxes of goods. This allows them to take only what they will use.
The pantry is open year-round, including summer and holiday breaks, and available to all active students living on and off-campus. Students can access the pantry once per month every month, and the staff understands that emergencies can happen, and students may need to access the pantry more frequently. In such cases, students can reach out to the staff for assistance, and they will try their best to accommodate the request. As the pantry grows, there are plans to make frozen foods and bread products available as well. The staff is committed to expanding the pantry's services and ensuring that it remains a safe and supportive space for all students.
“Baptist University students and their families face many financial challenges, and through the Blue Healer Pantry, we are able to provide non-perishable food items, toiletries and other basic household items. By making these items available, we are contributing to our students well-being and academic success. To keep the pantry well stocked, we depend on monetary donations and food drives from individual donors and colleagues. The Blue Healer Pantry has been a blessing for the students at Baptist U and we want to continue providing this very much-needed support.” -Sherita Martin, Director of Development