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Lehigh Carbon Community College

By Jordan Beach 

The Pantry at Reinhardt offered aid to students remaining on campus until the end of the Spring semester, staying stocked with the help of local community members.

Abigail Merchant with Jim Fausett. Photo provided by Christopher Bethel, Rotary Club of Marietta president.

During this time of greater need, several community members stepped in to help keep the shelves of the pantry stocked. Sonlight Vision Ministry of Hickory Flat Fellowship donated several boxes of supplies. The connection with the church was made by Beverly Smith, controller in Reinhardt’s business office, where her husband Scott is the pastor.

Another contribution came from Rotary Club of Marietta, who donated $1,230 along with a donation of supplies as part of “The Reinhardt Challenge,” developed after Abigail Merchant ’20 raised concern for Reinhardt’s international students to Jim Fausett, Rotarian and Merchant’s grandfather.

“The Rotary Club’s motto is ‘Service Above Self,’” said Christopher Bethel, president of the Rotary Club of Marietta. “This year, the Rotary Club of Marietta celebrated its 100th anniversary. We are a club of 100 members strong. It’s important to our Club that, although we are not able to currently personally meet at weekly lunch meetings, now held on Zoom, we are still very active in doing good works within the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important that the Club connects and serves with all ages and groups of people in our community, including international students.”

The Rotary Club of Marietta has a long history of helping college students, including hosting international students through the Georgia Rotary Student Program. After hearing of Reinhardt’s international students remaining on campus during the pandemic, the Club decided to raise as much money as possible, setting an initial goal of $300 for Reinhardt’s pantry, which quickly rose to more than $1,000.

“We are so appreciative for the assistance of nurse Kristy Hough with the University to coordinate this on our behalf,” said Bethel. “We hope that our efforts help the students who are here and far away from home, who are stuck here – most without transportation. I have been blown away by the impact and generosity of our Club, but that’s just what we do.”

Food insecurity is a common, ongoing issue for college students, and an event like the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated student need. Reinhardt University moved offices to operate remotely, however, remained open to students unable to return to a safe home.

“Food insecurity is a significant issue in higher education and for a growing number of Reinhardt students, concerns about where their next meal will come from, making it difficult to focus on their studies,” said Dr. Walter May, dean of students. “Reinhardt is truly grateful for its surrounding community and their contributions to assist our students.”

With the state of Georgia under Shelter in Place guidelines for nearly an entire month, students in residence halls faced the statewide limitations of only traveling to essential places. Some students faced unique problems such as not having a vehicle on campus or the inability to fly home to international residences. The Gordy Dining Hall remained open throughout the semester under altered operations, but the food pantry on campus filled the gap of food and other essential items.

Reinhardt’s food pantry, located in the Student Health Center in the Smith Johnston Residence Hall, offers non-perishable food items and a variety of personal hygiene products. “The Pantry at Reinhardt,” as re-branded by adjunct professor Zach Blend’s project management course last spring, is open to all students in need and helps international students in particular.