Missouri Southern alum Jon Tupper, ’92, normally responds to university-related posts on Facebook with four words – “LION PRIDE, LION PROUD!”

It’s that fervor, and use of the social media platform, that has benefited the Lion Co-op – the food pantry on campus that opened for MSSU students, faculty and staff back in November.

Tupper, who along with his son, Jaren, owns and operates Culver Creek Trading Company and Culver Creek Catering, took to Facebook in an effort to find a freezer for the pantry, which is located inside the FEMA storm shelter next to the residence halls.

“I figured if I could get 6-12 friends to donate we could do it quickly,” said Tupper. “We ended up getting two freezers in 36 hours.

“Friends, members of the community and some football alumni donated $600 for me to buy a new one at Lowe’s, then I had another friend who lived out of state who said ‘I have one you can just have.’ I believe in what the co-op is doing so I had no problem going out and asking.”

The Lion Co-op, which went from an idea last spring to an actual physical entity in less than 80 days, continues to receive donations from campus employees and organizations, as well as off campus.

A $5,000 crowdfunding campaign was successfully completed during the fall semester. MSSU faculty and staff also volunteered over winter break to keep the facility open.

“We were able to serve more than 70 clients during that time,” said Dr. Andrea Cullers, member of the Lion Co-op task force. “We’ve also surpassed the 100 client mark, and this semester we will continue to serve the Lion family.”

As will Jon Tupper.

Along with the freezers, he’s been donating meals from Culver Creek catered events and the Culver Creek food truck. He’s also looking at finding more shelving and racks for the facility.

“The co-op is everything we’re about so this just fit,” said Tupper. “It’s easy to donate food. And when you have it on campus and focused primarily on students – what better way to invest in their future?”