The Gamecock Pantry is available for USC undergraduate and graduate students to use.
Emery Smith, executive director of the Gamecock Pantry, says the organization is always willing to help a student in need.
The Gamecock Pantry is run solely by student volunteers through USC’s Leadership and Service Center.
With college tuition and living costs on the rise, students are experiencing hunger and food insecurity at a higher rate. Food insecurity occurs when someone is unable to access sufficient quantities of affordable, nutritious food.
For some students, when this struggle hits, it affects more than just them. That was the case for Bryent Taylor-Marshall, Senior Political Science, who lives with his girlfriend and their five-year-old daughter. When an unexpected car emergency hit, he knew he had to find a solution.
“I was looking at options of how I could kind of cut bills without really needing to short our lifestyle a bunch,” Taylor-Marshall said. “So I was looking at Harvest Hope Food Bank, but then I came across the Gamecock Food Pantry.”
The Gamecock Pantry is a food pantry at the University of South Carolina. It’s run by students for students. Its mission is to provide access to food in a free and confidential way to USC students, while also creating awareness about food insecurity at the university.
The pantry is one of more than 350 college food pantries that exist in the country, a number that has increased tremendously since 2009, when there were only 10.
Executive Director Emery Smith is a senior at USC and has been working with the pantry for three years now. She’s seen how much it has grown, especially during this school year.
“Last year alone, the pantry had 70 clients that whole entire school year,” Smith said. “Last semester alone, one month, I think it was September or November, we had 150 students in one month. So, yes, we’ve grown tremendously and the hours have gone up so we can accommodate more people.”
And the process isn’t difficult at all. All you have to do is show up at the pantry, located in McBryde Quadrangle A, and bring your Carolina Card. From there, a volunteer will ask you to fill out a client intake form. Students may select a total of 15 items per week.
The pantry has non-perishable foods, like canned foods and pasta sauce, and a variety of toiletries to choose from that don’t add to the 15-item quota. They also host Fresh Bread Fridays, where students can get fresh bread every Friday in addition to their 15 items. But Smith says volunteers are always willing to help a student in need.
“If they were to need more, we always just tell them to tell someone who’s volunteering at the time,” Smith said. “It’s never a big deal. You never know what someone might be going through.”
As for Taylor-Marshall, he hasn’t used the pantry recently because he says he and his family are in a better place financially, but he knows they can always rely on the Gamecock Pantry.
“Really, really glad I had it,” he said. “And I know if we’re ever in a short space that we can always pick up there and we won’t have to worry about it.”
To learn more about the Gamecock Pantry, their hours, how to volunteer, or how to donate, click here.