Officials with the newly formed food pantry at Missouri Southern State University – the Lion Co-Op – will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house on Tuesday, November 13 at 10 a.m. inside the FEMA shelter. The Co-Op, which will begin operating on Thursday, November 15, will assist students who are dealing with food insecurity.

MSSU faculty and students recognized this need last spring and sprang into action. Students researched those currently enrolled and realized that students were making hard choices about how to spend their limited resources.

“Food insecurity affects our ability to learn and work,” said Dr. Andrea Cullers, associate professor in the Kinesiology Department, registered dietician and member of the Lion Co-Op task force. “We want to provide the Lion community with resources that enhance their experience in the classroom and across campus. The Lion Co-Op will provide food assistance and personal hygiene items to all members of the Lion family.”

“This has been nothing short of extraordinary,” said Dr. Renee White, Social Work Department Chair and task force member. “Last spring, several entities on campus were noticing a growing trend of hunger and its side effects. By late July, three faculty members (Dr. White, Dr. Cullers and Dr. Megan Bever) came together to answer the question ‘What can the MOSO family do to alleviate hunger?’ From that question, the Lion Co-Op was born.”

The Lion Co-Op, which will be housed inside the FEMA shelter, will be open from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. on Mondays, and from 10 a.m. – noon on Thursdays. It will provide food and personal items to MSSU students and staff who need them in a discreet, safe environment. Monetary donations can be made to assist in the purchase of these items. All donations are considered gifts to the Missouri Southern Foundation.

“The outpouring of support, both here on campus and within the Joplin community, has been remarkable,” added White. “In my 35 years of professional social work, I have never seen such

immediate understanding and support of a social issue. It’s truly inspiring to be a part of this effort.”