Typically, institutions of higher learning are known for providing education, not for being “angels of generosity.” Atlanta Metropolitan State College is both.
A little over two ago, Atlanta Metropolitan State College recognized that many of its students were having problems staying alert and attentive in class. After identifying the need, college officials decided to create something they call the Food Locker.
“It was started to combat food insufficiency for students in order that they could better concentrate on studies and not suffer from hunger,” said Dr. Dorothy Williams, the college’s director of counseling and support services and coordinator of the Food Locker.
The college forged a partnership with Antioch Urban Ministries Inc., a ministry of Antioch North Baptist Church. Antioch Urban Ministries focuses on assisting those who are having difficulties and struggles in life in meeting some of the day-to-day needs that are basic for most but difficult for those who are unemployed, hold minimum-wage-earning positions or live on Social Security Income or Social Security Disability Income payments.
Antioch Urban Ministries and Atlanta Metropolitan State College may appear to be unlikely partners, but both recognize the importance of their partnership as well as giving back to the community. Together, the two institutions have discovered a way to assist the homeless population and the need for food in the area that has been deemed a food desert.
“The reason for the choice was the location of AMSC and their philosophy aligned with AUMI’s need to serve the underserved in a capacity we deemed humanistic and logical as well as meeting our mission to serve the least of these,” said the Rev. Terry L. Hightower of Antioch Urban Ministries Inc.
Williams says college officials believe strongly that giving back to the community is important because the school is a part of the community, and they want members of the community to continue to feel that they are a part of Atlanta Metropolitan State College’s extended family.
It may come as a surprise how many students attending college today are homeless and don’t have the means to provide daily meals for themselves and their families.
Atlanta Community Food Bank reports that 1 in 7.5 people — an estimated 755,400 people — in metro Atlanta and north Georgia turn to food pantries and meal service programs to feed themselves and their families each year. This includes more than 164,000 children and more than 64,000 seniors.
Students, faculty, staff and community members are eligible to receive both perishable and nonperishable food items from the Food Locker. There are no requirements to receive care packages. Last month, the college distributed holiday care packages for Thanksgiving and made its final distribution for 2018 on Thursday, Dec. 6, to ensure that students and others would have plenty to eat during the holiday break.
Since its inception, the Food Locker has been well received by students, Williams said. “If students state that they desire food, the pantry is open to them, and bi-weekly food distributions are set up to distribute food to any student who desires to receive a bag of food.”
According to scripture, “When man gives from the heart, and not grudgingly, God will make all grace and blessings abound toward them” (2 Cor. 9:7-8). Atlanta Metropolitan State College and Antioch Urban Ministries Inc. are quietly living out that mantra.