Local business builds outdoor pantry for Roane State students in Fentress County

Director of the Roane State Fentress County Campus Tinisha Key (center) stands next to the new outdoor pantry with Liz Hammond from Mountain Barn Builders (left) and RSCC Administrative Assistant Darya Murk (right).

FENTRESS COUNTY – An outdoor food pantry has been installed next to Roane State’s new Fentress County campus, and it’s the result of the community college’s partnership with a local manufacturer.

The pantry is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for Roane State students to pick up nonperishable food items for free. It’s in a secure location on the Union Bank side of the campus, which is located at 6844 S. York Highway in the Clarkrange community. The pantry had been named the “Roane State Community College Blessing Box.”

The brainchild of campus director Tinisha Key, the pantry was built by workers at Mountain Barn Builders, a nearby company that makes storage buildings, gazebos and other structures.

“We were given a little creative license and decided it should look like a cabin-style storage barn,” said Liz Hammond with the company’s accounting and logistics department. “It’s a pretty good-sized thing.” She and her husband, John, built it on weekends. It has a metal roof and siding “like a storage barn,” Hammond said.

Mountain Barn Builders employees donated food items to initially stock the pantry. “We’re all the time looking for ways to reach out and help the community, and we’re happy to be of service,” Hammond added.

Key said she and her husband Brent currently stock a pantry that’s inside the campus building and will also stock the outdoor pantry. “Donations are always welcome,” Key said.

“I’m excited to have the support of Mountain Barn Builders for this project, which is an effort to provide a resource to address students’ food insecurity issues outside normal operating hours,” Key said.

Working to address food insecurity issues among its students, Roane State has also established significant in-house food pantries at the college’s three largest campuses – in Roane County, Cumberland County and Oak Ridge. Questions can be emailed to raiderpantry@roanestate.edu. Additional information is posted at roanestate.edu/foodpantry.

The food pantry built by Mountain Barn Builders for Roane State students.

Roane State is a two-year college providing transfer programs, career-preparation programs and continuing education. Founded in 1971, the college has locations in Roane, Campbell, Cumberland, Fentress, Knox, Loudon, Morgan and Scott counties as well as a branch campus in Oak Ridge. For more information, visit www.roanestate.edu or call (865) 882-4554. Remember, eligible adults can now attend Roane State tuition-free with the new Reconnect grant. Learn more at www.roanestate.edu/reconnect.

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