by Leah Jackson

The Northwestern State University Food Pantry received a huge boost of support from a Northwestern graduate, whose $10,000 donation will fund the purchase of non-perishable food items, toiletries, cleaning supplies, kitchen tools, cutlery, sanitizer and support materials for the Food Pantry, which serves all NSU and BPCC@NSU students free of charge.

Mike Knotts, a 1986 graduate, is a long-time supporter of Northwestern, having served as NSU Foundation board member and committee chair.  For many years, he hosted NSU’s Bossier Parish recruiting receptions for incoming students and their parents.  He is a member of the NSU Columns Fund and a contributor to the Mack & Jonell Knotts Annual Scholarship and other special projects for the NSU Foundation.

Knotts’ son, Nick, a first year NSU student, was present for the surprise presentation at Wednesday night’s basketball game.

“Mr. Knotts took a tour of the pantry on one of his recent visits to campus and was moved by what our students are doing for their fellow students,” said Reatha Cox, director of Student Affairs, who coordinates volunteer and community impact projects.  “He is also proud of his son, Nick, who volunteers and assists with pantry projects.”

The NSU Food Pantry was established by social work students in 2015 to address food insecurity on campus.  The food pantry is staffed by more than 50 student, faculty and staff volunteers who participate in training to teach the importance of courtesy and confidentiality. 

“Many college students are first-generation students with families of modest incomes,” said Denise Bailey, professor of social work and faculty advisor for the Food Pantry.  “Our mission is to combat food insecurity at NSU by providing temporary emergency assistance in the form of healthy, culturally appropriate non-perishable food items to students in need.  Our vision is that no student at NSU be impacted by hunger due to the lack of ability to afford food.”

The Food Pantry has been a vital resource, especially in light of events over the last year when students were financially affected by COVID-19, multiple hurricanes, the recent winter storm, and other unexpected expenses, Cox said.  During university breaks and other closures, prepackaged bags were placed for collection outside the Food Pantry, which is located on the south side of Trisler Power Plant across from Magale Recital Hall on NSU’s Central Avenue.  Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 8 a.m.-noon Friday.

Bailey said she was amazed by the donation.

“The ongoing generosity of those who understand the need for and support of the NSU Student Food Pantry is always appreciated,” she added. 

Donations to the Food Pantry are always welcome.  To obtain a list of needed items, donors should email Cox at coxr@nsula.eduor Bailey at  Monetary donations are also accepted through the NSU Foundation.  Donors can visit and support the NSU Food Pantry in the Make A Gift section and specify the NSU Food Pantry.

Student volunteers Bailey Willis of Opelousas and Mariah Cador of Oscar stocked shelves at the NSU Food Pantry, which is open to all NSU and BPCC@NSU students. In addition to food items, the pantry also provides toiletries, cleaning supplies, sanitizer, kitchen tools and cutlery at no charge.

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