Cobra Cupboard helps combat food disparities among students

By Melissa Rollins, Editor,

For many students, college is the first time that they are living on their own. They are navigating class schedules, student loans and part-time jobs. Sometimes there is not enough money to go around but they don’t know who to ask for help. Colleges across the northeast are recognizing that food disparities exist among their student bodies and are extending a helping hand. Coker College has joined the ranks of colleges seeking to make sure that students receive all the help they need, in and outside of the classroom, by opening the Cobra Cupboard. The food pantry is open to all Coker students.

According to a 2016 report from the College and University Food Bank Alliance, the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, the Student Government Resource Center, and the Student Public Interest Research Groups, 20 percent of students attending a four-year college or university experiences food insecurity, meaning that they lack the necessary amounts of quality food to live a healthy life.

Tymon Graham, Director of Residence Life at Coker, said that Coker staff realized that their students were not immune to this struggle.

“It started with us realizing that across the nation there are food disparities but it that also happens here,” Graham said. “People don’t talk about it but we wanted to find a way to help students.”

Even with meal plans, sometimes there are things outside of a student’s control.

“All of our students are required to get a meal plan like any other college across the nation but there are some times like Thanksgiving break where our dining halls are closed,” Graham said. “During the summer they operate on adjusted hours. Students don’t always access to a place to cook. Some students are here for athletics or other reasons so they can’t necessarily go home so this is a great option for them to help them with their needs while they are here.”

The Coker Cupboard began accepting donations in August right before the fall semester and opened to students at the beginning of November.

“We have had about 15 students so far that have started,” Graham said. “Even though those students have been coming, and they are allowed to come every two weeks, we still have a lot of stuff left because we have a lot of support from faculty and staff, the community and other students. They are always willing to help each other out.”

Resident and non-resident students alike can use the Cobra Cupboard.

“Some students, financially, can’t live on campus,” Graham said. “They just don’t have the funds to do that. And maybe the funds–the money that they have or that they make from working non-stop–allows them to pay their rent, but then they still have issues with food. This is open to all students who are enrolled.”

Graham said that the program is discrete and confidential.

Donations of non-perishable food items can be dropped off at Coker’s Residence Life office, which is located upstairs in the Susanne G. Linville Dining Hall. The Cobra Cupboard is located directly across from Residence Life. Monetary donations and Walmart gift cards are also welcome. They will allow items to be replenished by staff when necessary.

Items needed include canned tuna, peanut butter, vegetables like beans and peas, fruit cups, dried fruits, macaroni and cheese, ravioli, boxed cereal and oatmeal. Donations of other items such as soap, toilet paper, laundry detergent and feminine hygiene products are also welcomed.

For more information about The Cobra Cupboard, please contact Tymon Graham at or 843-383-8360.

Author: Duane Childers

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