Meredith McDevitt distinctly remembers her experience as an undergraduate student at Clemson and wanting to make a difference in the lives of others. After graduating in 2019 and adding a master’s degree from the University of Michigan, she’s returned to her alma mater and is doing just that.
Among her responsibilities as a full-time staff member in the Center for Student Leadership and Engagement, McDevitt serves as adviser to the Paw Pantry, Clemson’s student-run campus food pantry.
“It fills me with joy to be able to work with students who want to make an impact on others,” she says. “Being part of and serving as a mentor for students who care about the greater Clemson Family is really special. It’s very fulfilling.”
Paw Pantry was founded by Emily Blackshire in 2015 as a means of reducing food insecurity for students. Some of the effects of food insecurity include increased stress levels, deterioration in physical health, social awkwardness and poor academic performance.
Now located in room 233 of Sirrine Hall after moving from Edgar A. Brown Union, Paw Pantry offers a range of items including non-perishable foods, hygiene products and school supplies. No proof of need is required, and no questions are asked.
This Fall, McDevitt says Paw Pantry has been visited more than 130 times as students deal with factors such as inflation, rising costs in higher education and lingering effects from a global pandemic.
Awareness of Paw Pantry typically peaks mid-semester as students head toward the Thanksgiving holiday. Still, plenty of students reach out during exam week and over the course of winter break.
“A huge part of Paw Pantry’s mission is following Clemson’s ethical standards of supporting each other and ensuring needs are met as college students,” says McDevitt. “Many students are in a different spot financially and this offers a way for them to come together.”
Paw Pantry is run by a student executive board and features as many as 20 volunteers each semester. Two students serve in co-director roles and spearhead outreach for the pantry with University departments and community agencies. This past semester, Paw Pantry paired with Parking and Transportation Services in a program known as “Donations for Citations,” where students could bring in items and have their parking tickets dismissed.
McDevitt says the group’s goal heading into 2023 is to implement more outside-the-box collaboration with Clemson faculty and staff. She hopes it leads to more foot traffic and general awareness for students who may be in need.
As students break for a few weeks before the start of the Spring semester, Paw Pantry will be open during select dates to provide resources as needed.
Friday, Dec. 23 – 1-3 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 8 – 6-8 p.m.
Wednesday, Jan. 11 – 6-8 p.m.
For more information or to be involved with Paw Pantry, contact the team at email@example.com or call 864-372-6879.