Sowela Technical Community College officially launched Tiger Love, an on-site food pantry at the Lake Charles campus, with a housewarming shower and ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday. The pantry allows students and faculty to shop the pantry on a weekly, as-needed basis, helping to ensure the college's ultimate goal of supporting students towards graduation.
Tiger Love helps combat food insecurity, a reality a surprising number of students face, Chancellor Neil Aspinwall said.
"What we have to do is make sure we remove the obstacles so a student can succeed and they can get an education," Aspinwall said.
Christine Collins, director of student support services, echoed Aspinwall's sentiments.
"When you're hungry, you're not thinking about what an instructor is saying in class," Collins said. "For many programs and initiatives that we start, the goal is always to focus on the end result, which is for them to graduate, receive their certificate or diploma or whatever it is that they come here for."
Minimal information beyond a student identification card is required of students to begin taking advantage of the pantry's offerings, Collins said. Students are then given a Sowela reusable shopping tote to pick out common grocery items, paper products and personal hygiene items.
The pantry is also equipped with a refrigerator for cold items and microwave to instantly prepare meals. Shopping bags are weighed at the conclusion of the visit for reporting purposes.
Cory Green, Student Government Association representative, said Tiger Love shows the college's commitment to helping eliminate distractions for students.
"If you're hungry, you can't focus on class work," he said. "This is one of Sowela's many programs to help eliminate distractions that way students can focus on their success."
Tiger Love is funded with grant moneys and community donations. The program will continue to accept items on an ongoing basis. For more information or to donate, visit www.sowela.edu/tiger-love.