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Ceremonial groundbreaking planned for Marshall food pantry and thrift store

Marshall University will host a ceremonial groundbreaking to mark the start of renovations on an expanded facility to house a food pantry and thrift store on the university’s Huntington campus. The event is slated for 3 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, at 1802 6th Ave.

Previously, the food pantry and thrift store were housed in separate locations, but with proposed renovations, the facility will expand to 3,083 square feet, which is more than quadruple the square footage of the existing facilities.

Walker Tatum, who served as student body president for the 2023-2024 academic year and is now employed as the director of alumni engagement with the Marshall University Foundation, says the idea came at the start of his SGA term with Callia Yang, who served alongside him as student body vice president.

“We started hearing about food insecurity and from there, cultivated a survey for students addressing the issue,” said Tatum. “The submissions were eye-opening. We knew we needed to take the opportunity to voice their concerns. The support of President Brad D. Smith and his office was overwhelming. We benchmarked other peer institutions and researched as much as we could. All of that led to a comprehensive plan moving forward to combine both.”

Tatum says the project has significant importance to him, and he is happy to continue to be part of the positive change for students.

“We are all in this together,” said Tatum. “President Smith always says the power of ‘we’ is strong. So, this initiative will not only bring Marshall University and the community together but will produce something we have needed for a long time.”

The food pantry will also help with a problem that Tatum says is often overlooked.

“We truly don’t understand what others are going through,” said Tatum. “Some may not even realize they are food insecure. Unfortunately, in today’s society, there is a stigma around shopping at a food pantry or thrift store, but with this expansion, we want to aid that in everyone seeing it as a dynamic space that is a one-stop shop.”

The food pantry will not only serve Marshall students and staff, but will be available to the Huntington community as well. The thrift store will continue to operate only for Marshall students, helping to alleviate student needs by providing access to items at a reduced cost throughout the semester.

The food pantry renovations are being funded in part through a generous donation from the Ball Toyota Family of Dealerships, which includes Ball Toyota Charleston, L&S Toyota Beckley and Advantage Toyota Barboursville. Ball Toyota President Shawn Ball serves on Marshall’s Board of Governors.

The ceremonial groundbreaking is open to the public and will take place at the facility, previously known as the Tri-State MRI building at 1802 6th Ave. Proposed renderings of the facility will be on display. The newly expanded facility is expected to open later this year.

Media are invited and encouraged to attend.

Media Contact

Melanie Whitt
University Relations Specialist
Marketing & Communications