Kroger supermarket presented JSU with $15,000 worth of gift cards to support its food pantries for general students and student-athletes to help eliminate food insecurity on campus and refuel their energy.
Acting JSU President Thomas Hudson said the partnership with Kroger is just the beginning.
“We’re always happy when people want to invest in our students. The Tiger Food Pantry serves an important purpose here. We really appreciate Kroger for stepping up to the plate.”
Hudson also noted that Mississippi has many food deserts and cited food insecurity throughout Jackson.
‘Access to healthy foods’
“Our students have access to healthy foods; however, the surrounding community may not. And, there is food insecurity on our campus and most people don’t even realize this. So, this effort with Kroger really helps us out a lot,” Hudson said.
Teresa Dickerson, corporate affairs manager for the Kroger Delta Division, said February is a good time to reflect on JSU’s legacy.
“It’s Black History Month, and JSU is so important to our country. We’re very appreciative. Plus, we have a number of JSU grads who work for Kroger,” Dickerson said.
“I heard so much from our associates who are alums of Jackson State and about Jackson State’s rich history and the work ethic of students here. I thought it was perfect to partner your Tiger Food Pantry with Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Initiative,” she said.
“Through Zero Hunger | Zero Waste – which is Kroger’s flagship community initiative – we’re making it our goal to end hunger by 2025,” Dickerson said.
Furthermore, Dickerson said, “We, too, found that there is a lot of food insecurity on college campuses. Sometimes, students have to choose between buying food or books or supplies. That should not happen, especially when you have corporate partners like Kroger that want to help feed our future.”
Southern Heritage Classic
The Kroger official explained that the relationship with JSU developed at the past Southern Heritage Classic, an annual football rivalry between JSU and Tennessee State University.
Dickerson said the refueling station is for JSU’s athletes, with $5,000 going to the athletic refueling station and the remaining $10,000 to the JSU Tiger Food Pantry.
“Being a former student-athlete, I understand the need for additional resources,” Dickerson said. “They need food that you probably wouldn’t think of. They are consistently burning energy; on the run by going back and forth to class; then to practice while also trying to study. If they’re not eating properly, specifically nutritious meals, then it would be detrimental to their health.”
Dickerson met JSU’s Vice President and Director of Athletics Ashley Robinson through Fred Jones, the founder of the Southern Heritage Classic. The relationship-building began instantly.
Robinson said, “We thank Kroger for investing in us. Whenever I talk to anyone about sponsorships I include the whole university, not just athletics. So, this is a big deal for the refueling station and the Tiger Food Pantry.”
‘Refuel their bodies’
In addition, Robinson said, “Anytime you’re building an athletic program a refueling station is really what you want to engage in with your student-athletes. It’s a big benefit for our student-athletes, especially when you’re looking at their performance and the day-to-day things they’re doing – from time management to class and from going to breakfast to lunch.”
Robinson said, “In between those times student-athletes can refuel their bodies. This helps when they’re working out as well. Refueling stations are very big in the athletic world. JSU has three stations now for our student-athletes.”
Jonathan Demming is the I-55 North Kroger store leader and a 1999 JSU graduate. He, too, is excited about the JSU partnership.
“This is a huge opportunity for our company, especially being the only Kroger store in Jackson and its close proximity to Jackson State University. We want to focus on fresh foods – produce and meats,” Demming said.
Meanwhile, Dickerson said the gift cards are “very convenient.” She said, “Food can be purchased seamlessly just by handing over the gift cards to the store leader.”