Do you know where your next meal is coming from?
March 14, 2023

For some of our students on campus, this is a very real concern. Luckily for us at UT, there are many resources available to address this growing need.

The UT Libraries Diversity Committee recently held a panel discussion to explore resources available to students who are experiencing financial hardship. Blake Weiss, program director for basic needs with the Office of the Dean of Students; Nicole Carvagno, UT student and director of Smokey’s Pantry (a food pantry for Tennessee Vols); and Javiette Samuel, associate vice chancellor for diversity and engagement, gathered with interested students, faculty, and staff at a hybrid panel in the Student Union. Philippa Satterwhite, coordinator of financial wellness and education for UT’s Center for Financial Wellness, moderated the discussion.

What was discovered during the session was that underfed and undernourished students are less likely to be engaged during classes and more likely to exhibit poor academic performance. Fixed costs — such as tuition and books, rent and gas — remain constant, with food costs likely being the factor that gets trimmed or eliminated. Options for Vols include the Big Orange Pantry (held in the Student Union and open daily) and Smokey’s Pantry (available Tuesdays at nearby Tyson House).

Needs don’t end once meals are consumed, however. The Center for Financial Wellness, located in the John C. Hodges Library, provides help for students to improve their money management skills through one-on-one appointments, presentations, and other online resources. Smokey’s Closet can provide business attire for students preparing for interviews.

Most services are available to students, faculty, and staff. And very little information is needed to access services.

Food insecurity and meeting the basic needs of college students has emerged as a critical concern at public higher education campuses across the nation. Here at UT, our staff are working hard to make sure our VFLs are well provided for during their time on our campus.