Tri-City Ledger -

By Gretchen McPherson
Ledger Staff 

PSC is opening its food pantry

Century branch to fill needs for its students


March 7, 2019

Pensacola State College in Century has started a student food pantry to serve students from any PSC campus to address food insecurities and shortfalls among its students.

"We were awarded a grant from International Paper Company to start a food pantry for students at Century center," said PSC Century Director Paula Byrd. "There is already one on the main campus in Pensacola, and student support services wanted to replicate it up here. It allowed us to stock our first shelves full, and students from any PSC are eligible to receive services from the food pantry. Food insecurity is really common with college students who are trying to work, go to school and take care of their families, so we are trying to address that through having a student food pantry."

Byrd said it's a one-time grant, so restocking it will have to rely on donations from other students and community members to stock the shelves.

"We wanted to have a refrigerator so we can have some fresh and frozen food, which we have in place," said Byrd. "Our plan is to also make available to students some of the harvest from the community garden, since it's on our campus."

She said the service is currently available and the only thing a PSC student needs to do is call her and come in to fill out a short one-time form and they can be served at PSC once they are verified as a student there.

"They can access it for their entire household," she said. "So many of our students are non-traditional, students who have kids, jobs, spouses, and some are returning to school as a second career."

Donations are welcome, as the grant was to start up the program. Byrd said that once grant funds are gone that's it.

"We can take actual food, as long as it's not out of date," said Byrd. "We welcome anyone who wants to donate food or money to the program to help keep it going for our students."

Century Hope Garden

At 9 a.m. this Saturday, March 9, Century area residents are invited to join the Century Community Hope Garden Work Day, weather permitting.

Those interested are encouraged to bring closed-toe shoes, water and gardening tools such as rakes, shovels and gloves.

Donations of seeds, cardboard, mushroom compost, plants, bales of hay (not straw), wood chips and garden decorations are welcome.

"The community garden started an ideal that came up during the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) meeting," said Century resident Michelle Cunningham. "That was our first project we could realistically do. Mr. Ben Boutwell was very instrumental in getting items donated. He got someone to bring in top soil and hay. We've been working a little at a time."

Cunningham said the hope is to have little plots at every park in an around the Century community. She said eventually, all the harvest will be free to the public.

"We went to grow a healthy community," she said. "There are actually little things people can do, to share, work, and learn together to have something where everyone benefits. We plan to have workshops on eating healthy, on growing plants, and how to incorporate what we learn and teach to prevent diabetes by eating properly."

Cunningham said the project is starting small, with plans to add fruit trees and other seasonal agriculture.

"We'd love to have a watermelon patch for summer and a pumpkin patch for fall, where everyone can come by and enjoy an offering of the earth," she said.

She said they welcome donations of anything related to gardening or tools.

"We are keeping it organic," said Cunningham. "We are in the learning stages right now and welcome anything we can. Anything that makes it better helps."

For more info, contact Paula Byrd at [email protected] or 850-471-4679.


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