A helping hand to F.U.E.L. students

Hunger is an issue in the United States. Tuition, books and cost of college living are at an all time high. Many students have no money for basic groceries. NKU students are helping their peers who are struggling fill shortages at  F.U.E.L. NKU.  

When social work junior Jessica Hartlage heard about a food pantry on campus from her professor Dr. Jessica Taylor, she knew she wanted to get involved.

Taylor shared with Hartlage that there are students without food on campus. Many students pay their own tuition, books and rent. They are left with loans and little in their bank account for food.

Hartlage learned that this is where F.U.E.L. NKU assists any student in need.

F.U.E.L. NKU is a campus organization and assistance pantry that provides nonperishable food and toiletries to students at no cost.

“We are run by NKU students for NKU students,” senior social work major and practicum student with  F.U.E.L. NKU Sheila Reisch said.

Students may come as often as once a week to the pantry. The pantry is open on Mondays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We fulfill a need that really helps a lot of people,” Reisch said. “This semester 90 students have come, some every week and others less.”

A student may come in with his or her student ID, sign a waiver and receive two bags of food and toiletries on a weekly basis.

Shannon Sherrer a graduate social work student said the organization began unofficially in 2013. Taylor collected items and distributed them to students in need out of her office.  F.U.E.L. NKU officially started in fall of 2014 and continues to grow both in need and in donations.

In addition to giving at the pantry, F.U.E.L.  NKU the organization works with Greek life and other campus organizations to fuel food drives and competitions.

“It is such a great help and we are so grateful for all the donations we have received from can drives and bake sales,” Reisch said.

Hartlage is a member of Kappa Delta and organized the first F.U.E.L. NKU can drive competition between the different sororities and fraternities.

“I knew I wanted to help those in need but I didn’t know how to give back to this organization,” Hartlage said. “I am active in Greek Life and a competitive donation drive came to mind.”

The Greek chapters had two weeks to collect donations. They focused their collections on canned meats and soups, items of particular need at F.U.E.L. NKU.

“The Greeks love competitions. It’s a great way to get more people helping, especially during the holidays,” Hartlage said.

Twelve chapters participated. The winning chapters were sorority Phi Sigma Sigma and Fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon.  The food drive raised more than 500 items for F.U.E.L NKU.

“Supporting the university, supporting the community and supporting the community where the university resides is a key to Greek life,” Kim Vance Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life said.

The university encourages national fraternities and sororities chapters to participate in local causes.

“Greek life’s enthusiasm to help F.U.E.L. NKU was unbelievable. It made the donation drive a total success,” Hartlage said.

F.U.E.L. NKU is beginning its next campus-wide donation drive on Nov. 18. The entire campus will be competing against University of Kentucky.

The Big Blue Pantry and F.U.E.L. NKU believe the competition will better both university campuses with the spirit of giving, Reisch said.

“We want all of campus to know about the drive to have opportunity to be involved if they want,” Sherrer said.

Students can drop off donations at Founders Hall 330. Donations are always welcome but the donation drive against UK ends on Dec. 2 with the NKU vs UK women’s’ basketball game.

The drive is coming at a critical time in the semester.

“We are seeing an influx of students in need,” Sherrer said. “Towards the end of the semester, students run out of money.”

F.U.E.L. NKU is asking for any nonperishable items to be donated, especially canned meat, soup, easy mac and rice.

“This is a great opportunity to help our own,” Hartlage said.

F.U.E.L. NKU has also arranged 25 Thanksgiving packages for students with a shortage of food. The baskets include boxed potatoes, stuffing, canned pumpkin and other holiday foods.

“We want to get the word out,” Reisch said. “Anyone who needs help should know where to get assistance.”