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Tech’s food pantry provides student nutrition assistance

Caleb Daniel
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
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Courtesy photos

Abigail Henington, sophomore nutrition major from Shreveport, sorts food at the Good Nutrition Mission Food Pantry.
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Dietetic students cook freezer meals in a lab with ingredients from the food pantry. Pantry Director Catherine Fontenot requires that the recipes taste good both fresh and after thawing.

As grocery stores continue to deal with increased demand because of the COVID-19 outbreak, students at Louisiana Tech University have another option to help put food on their tables: Tech’s Good Nutrition Mission Food Pantry.

Sponsored by the Student Dietetic Association, the pantry provides non-perishable food items for Tech students who need extra food resources. The service is located in Carson-Taylor Hall room 152 and is open 12:30 - 4 p.m. each Monday through Thursday.

While Tech, along with all other Louisiana universities, has transitioned to online-only instruction as COVID-19 continues to spread in the state, residential facilities remain open to students, though outside visitation has been restricted.

Food Pantry Director Catherine Fontenot, an assistant professor in Tech’s nutrition and dietetics program, started the program in 2017. She said having the pantry open as a resource for students who may be struggling to find or afford quality food items has “come in very handy.”

“The number of students coming to the pantry over the last few days has increased,” Fontenot said. “The students coming in are making comments that food items are hard to come by, because the grocery stores in the area are having difficulty maintaining stock levels.”

Students can receive up to 12 pounds of food every three days. All students must do is show up, fill out a short form, and present their campus-wide ID, cell phone number and Tech email address.

In addition to shelf-stable items like peanut butter, fruit cups, tuna, canned chicken and mac and cheese, the pantry recently rolled out a lineup of freezer-stable meals made from scratch by volunteers, largely nutrition and dietetics students.

“In the winter quarter, we recognized that some of the food items we stock on our shelves weren’t moving,” Fontenot said. “We came to the conclusion that the students didn’t know how to prepare them, or they didn’t have the facilities to cook them. So we have taken those ingredients and developed recipes with them, like casserole-type dishes and soups. All the student has to do is heat and serve.”

The pantry is stocked mainly by donations, including a yearly food drive across all campus departments. More recently, the pantry has also partnered with the Northeast Louisiana Food Bank in Monroe. The next order from the food bank is expected to come in Friday.

The pantry accepts both food and cash donations and welcomes any student who wishes to volunteer.

“We sort the food, check expiration dates, then package it away,” sophomore nutrition major Abigail Henington said. “People drop off non-perishable items all the time.”

Contact Fontenot at or call 257-3237 to volunteer. Cash donations can be made through the Tech Alumni Foundation, ear-marked for the Food Pantry account. Food donations can be delivered either to Fontenot’s office at Carson-Taylor room 145 or at the pantry down the hall.