OpeN Shelf, a campus pantry, is a new initiative on campus to support our University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) students in need. Basic necessities, ranging from non-perishable food items to hygiene products like laundry detergent, will be provided to lessen barriers for UNL students pursuing higher education.
The inspiration for OpeN Shelf came from a staff member in Residence Life sharing the story of a couple UNL students struggling at the end of the Fall 2012; both students were unable to afford laundry detergent and to pay for washing their clothing and bedding throughout the semester. Following that meeting, Kelli Smith, with UNL Career Services, reached out to the Director of Financial Aid to identify how she could provide some donations to a few students, but discovered the need among students is significant enough that a small gift would have little impact. Still wanting to figure out a way to help our students in need, Kelli’s next idea was to reach out to the Director of the Food Bank of Lincoln, Scott Young, inquiring one late Friday night whether he thought there might be potential for a partnership between the Food Bank and UNL. He wrote back at 6:30 am the next morning with a positive response, and it was the start of our campus pantry concept. This was followed by several meetings with Scott’s team and various stakeholders across campus.
What has been truly inspiring is the campus and community support for this program. If it were not for the support of the Food Bank of Lincoln, Student Affairs Staff Council, and UNL Greek Affairs for donating items; the Lutheran Student Center and Pastor Adam for agreeing to host the location and providing volunteers; Housing for helping to spread the news and bring this to our attention; the AmeriCorps volunteer program for designating sophomore Megan Rudolph to build the pantry over the summer; an anonymous student’s suggestion of OpeN Shelf as our name; and the financial contribution of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, we would not have been able to launch OpeN Shelf on the first day of classes this fall. OpeN Shelf represents a highly collaborative effort and the care people, outside and inside UNL, have for our students.
As parents, we hope you will help us spread the word about this new initiative. For more information, please visit our newly launched website, http://openshelf.unl.edu, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Kelli Smith, UNL Career Services
Megan Rudolph, AmeriCorps Volunteer
More details at: http://go.unl.edu/urd