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Laker Care Pantry to host grand opening celebration

(January 30, 2024) - The lifestyle of a college student is often unique when truly analyzed.

Junior Jakori Watson helps stock items at the Laker Care Pantry

Everything from sleep patterns to resource accessibility to community engagement can often be seen as different – just like a college student’s diet.

And to ensure that Lakers in need have plenty of help maintaining a stable diet, the Laker Care Closet will officially be rebranded with both a new home and a new name.

The Laker Care Pantry will host a grand opening celebration on Tuesday, January 30, from 3-4 p.m. on the first-floor lobby of the Student Activities Center, where its new “convenience store” setup will be on display for all to see and contribute donations to.

For Clayton State Director of Student Life Sarah Ray, the new space serves as a representation of “what it truly means for Lakers to help Lakers” and will carry positively affect all in need in the campus community.  

Ray said she was astounded when she recently read in a pair of research journals that 12% of college students face greater food insecurity than the general population, saying it’s something that “shouldn’t be an issue” to begin with.

Additionally, she said that for some students, it may be embarrassing to admit that one doesn’t have enough food or proper toiletries and materials to get through the day.

But this is a particular situational mindset that she believes can be addressed for the better.

“I hope that any type of concern or stigma that may be associated with this is removed,” Ray said. “At the end of the day, we want the same thing, and that’s success for each other – to celebrate their commencement and know that we got through it together.”

Alpha Phi Omega President Jakori Watson also shared Ray’s perspective that students should feel encouraged to seek out the new Laker Care Pantry, should they need either food or personal care items.

Watson, a junior business management major, also believes that the “incentive” the pantry provides to help aid Lakers will help it “grow tremendously” in the years to come, predicting an even bigger space may be needed in the future if students, staff, faculty, and community partners all provide frequent donations.

“Some might be a little hesitant about coming, because then, people may [learn] their business,” Watson said. “But for many students, it's kind of open. They're not struggling, but they probably just need something to hold them over tonight before they get paid tomorrow.”

Additionally, Watson and all in Alpha Phi Omega, are so committed to both the pantry’s potential and grand opening, that they even worked through the 2023 holiday break to ensure that it would be ready to launch in early 2024.

Watson enthusiastically believes the grand opening will be only the beginning of a great resource for all Lakers in need, both today and tomorrow.

“I think once we actually open, it’s going to grow,” he said. “I think it’s kind of a gem that many students don’t know about now, but that will break eventually as we operate.”

Dr. Don Stansberry, Clayton State’s vice president of Student Affairs, also shares Watson’s and Ray’s excitement for the new pantry’s grand opening – the latter even saying none of it would be possible without “his leadership and support.”

“What I find most exciting about this project is that our students and staff are dedicating their time and energy to help our students in need,” Stansberry said. “This is another example of Clayton State University’s commitment to care.”

Stansberry simply feels delighted in seeing the substantial work accomplished by all Lakers involved, further saying that the efforts being put forth will lead to a great successor to all of the Laker Care Closet’s past achievements.”

“I am proud of the students and staff that have been working on establishing the Laker Care Pantry in the Student Activities Center,” Stansberry said. “This expands our program and builds on the great work that has happened with the mini pantries throughout campus.”

With both students and staff on hand to lead, Ray is nothing short of optimistic for what the future holds for the Laker Care Pantry.

“We're here to support you,” Ray said. “This is another layer of that. You will never be able to fully be 100% all in when you sit in that classroom if you're distracted because you're hungry or you need basic care items. You can't be all in and we want you to be all in. That's our goal.”

To more information on how to donate to the Laker Care Pantry, click on the link below:

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