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UT Hosts Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week

November 13–21 is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville will participate in the week, hosting several events to raise awareness about resources on campus that help combat food insecurity and meet the needs of students.

This week’s efforts have been organized by the Office of the Dean of Students, Center for Financial Wellness, Big Orange Pantry, and the Office of Sustainability. The Student Basic Needs Coalition (SBNC) has also taken the lead during Hunger and Homelessness week as a student advocacy organization seeking to address basic needs of food, health, housing, and safety for all at UT and across the country.  

“The issues of food and housing insecurity among college students has been brought to light in the recent years through student advocacy and collaborative efforts across campus, but it is time for student voices to be heard to ensure basic needs are met. Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is critical to building public knowledge about these issues, but more importantly, spark dialogue for equitable interventions that are student-centered and equity-oriented,” said Ashlyn Anderson, president of UT’s chapter of the Student Basic Needs Coalition.  

“Many students, faculty, and staff face food and housing insecurity in silence – we are working hard to change that,” said Ellie Mundale, Big Orange Pantry intern. “No member of the Volunteer community should have to worry about what their next meal will be, or if they will have a safe place to sleep at night. We want everyone on campus to have the support they need to be successful, which makes events like H&H Awareness Week so important.”  

Tuesday, November 16: The first-ever Basic Needs Fair will showcase organizations from across campus that provide resources for student food, health, housing, and safety. It will take place on the first floor of Hodges Library from noon–2 p.m. Stop by to grab some free swag, flyers, and snacks to learn more about how campus partners can support you. 

Thursday, November 18: SNAP Access Day is an annual event to raise awareness about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and connect faculty, staff, and students in support of the federal food resource. This year will feature two events: Financial Football hosted by the Center for Financial Wellness from 11 a.m.–1 p.m., and a virtual webinar hosted by the Tennessee Justice Center 2–3 p.m. that will detail how SNAP has been made more accessible to college students due to policy changes throughout the pandemic. Join in person or virtually to learn more about the program and how students can be eligible and enroll in the program. 

Friday, November 19: The fourth annual Hunger and Homelessness Summit hosted by the Office of the Dean of Students and End Hunger Feed Change Committee will cap off the week on Friday, November 19. The goal of the summit is to connect campus and community partners regarding issues of hunger and homelessness on college campuses.   

Campus Resources 

UT has various campus resources already in place to assist students dealing with food insecurity. 

Big Orange Meal Share

Big Orange Meal Share is a short-term assistance program that can allocate meals to students in need. Students can apply to receive meals through the Office of the Dean of Students. Meals can be used at any all-you-can-eat dining facility, Rocky Top Dining, Southern Kitchen, or Fresh Food Company in Stokely Hall during regular business hours. Contact the Office of the Dean of Students, dos@utk.edu or 865-974-3179, to learn more. 

Big Orange Pantry

Big Orange Pantry provides emergency food assistance for students, faculty, and staff attending or employed by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Located at Greve Hall (821 Volunteer Blvd), patrons can place an online order in advance to pick up non-perishables and/or stop by for produce, snacks, and hygiene products (no order required). 

The Grow Lab

The Grow Lab is a campus garden located at 2019 Terrace Avenue (between 21st Street and Montcastle Street). The living laboratory is a place where students, faculty, staff, and Knoxville citizens can participate in hands-on learning, engage in meaningful service, conduct research, and cultivate community. The Grow Lab helps address local food insecurity while demonstrating ecological food production methods. Half of the plots are designated for specific academic courses, research, and university groups. Staff and volunteers maintain the remaining plots and donate produce to hunger-alleviating initiatives, including Smokey’s Pantry and Big Orange Pantry. Contact growlab@utk.edu for more information. 

Smokey’s Closet 

Smokey’s Closet provides free gently used professional clothing and accessories to students at UT. The closet is coordinated by the Center for Career Development and Academic Exploration, Department of Retail Hospitality and Tourism Management, and Student Government Association. The fall hours are Mondays 3–5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday 1–2:30 p.m., and Fridays 2–4 p.m. located in Student Union 376C.  If these hours are not convenient, students can email smokeyscloset@utk.edu to schedule an appointment.  

If you are interested in donating clothing to the closet, please email smokeyscloset@utk.edu. You can also donate through the Smokey’s Closet Fund. 

Pride Center and Qloset 

A partnership between the Pride Center and the Commission for LGBT People, the Qloset is a free casual clothing closet for Volunteers looking for gender-affirming clothing in a safe, non-judgmental browsing environment. While the Qloset does not have a full-time location, it is hosted in monthly pop-ups at the Pride Center in the Student Union Suite 373. 

974-HELP 

The 974-HELP referral line was developed to help distressed or distressing students reach their academic goals and to help maintain a safe community and learning environment for all students. If students are concerned about themselves or another student, they can call (865) 974-HELP (4357). 

Free Store 

The UT Sustainability Free Store allows students to shop for free high-quality lightly used clothing, kitchenware, accessories, and small appliances at regularly scheduled Free Store pop-up events held throughout the academic year. Items at the Free Store are donated by students and members of the community as an alternative to throwing used clothes and other items in the landfill. Pop-up dates, times, and locations are shared through the Instagram account @sustainableut. The Free Store is directed by the Office of Sustainability. For more information, contact Deborah Bethel at dbethel1@utk.edu. You can donate to the Free Store at the new permanent donation bin located at the 24/7 Public Recycling Drop-Off at 2121 Stephenson Drive, Dock 24.


Contact

Alyssa Seisser, aseisser@utk.edu