The University of Virginia’s College at Wise officially opened Smiddy’s Cupboard, a food pantry that provides food and other items for students in need. The pantry, located in the Office of Housing & Residence Life in Cantrell Hall, was created by the Committee on Student Hunger & Homelessness.

“Food insecurity affects every aspect of one’s life,” said UVa-Wise Chancellor Donna P. Henry. “When you don’t know when or what your next meal might be, one’s sense of ease, stability and security can be disrupted.”

“With your support, this pantry will help achieve that,” she said. “Smiddy’s Cupboard will provide convenient access to food, toiletries, hygiene products, school supplies and clothes. As a community, let’s do what we can to contribute to it and ensure that the cupboard is full and operational as long as there is a need.”

The chancellor also delivered a message to students who may face hunger or food insecurities.

“I applaud you for continuing your studies and for pursuing your education,” she said. “I want to encourage you to keep going and to never give up. I am so glad you chose UVa-Wise to pursue your dreams, and I do not want anything to get in the way of that. We are here to provide the support and the tools needed to ensure student success.”

Gray Hamilton, the Student Government Association president, thanked all who worked to make the pantry possible. He also said the SGA is proud to be a part of such a worthy project.

Marcia Mitchell, director of Student Support Services, provided stark statistics that show student hunger and even homelessness are a national issue. A national survey revealed that food insecurity is a problem, even for students who hold jobs or are on a campus meal plan. It can be tougher on first generation college students, she added.

Josh Justice, director of residence life, backed up Mitchell’s statistics.

“Students are not always able to devote their full attention to their academic work when they are spending time and energy worrying about having enough to eat, including having food for weekends or through a break period,” he said.

Justice said it is difficult to know the number of students the pantry will serve, but he said helping just one student would make it a valuable resource.

“What makes this initiative so wonderful is the support that it has received from not only faculty and staff here at the College, but also from student and community groups,” he said.

He thanked the Office of Development team, Chartwells Dining, the CKI Club, and Kiwanis Clubs from St. Paul and Wise for supporting the pantry.

Smiddy’s Cupboard is named in honor of the late Chancellor Emeritus Joseph S. Smiddy. Donation boxes are located at various buildings on campus and monetary donations may be made to the Office of Development.