Helping Tigers Roar to Success
Whataburger Feeding Student Success Program marches into Grambling State University with a resource room that will feed students' minds and bodies
Karmel Reeves has heard the question more than once.
“They ask, ‘are you cooking today?... my cupboards are a bit empty’,” she says. “Those are the conversations that are very common.”
Reeves, the 2019-2020 Graduate Student Government Association President at Grambling State University, knew issues of food insecurity for college students went far deeper than the friends she could invite to share her table.
So she, and other student leaders like Steven Wilson, Grambling’s 2019-2020 SGA President, rolled up their sleeves and began laying the groundwork to support their fellow students.
Wilson said his predecessor in student government had a tiny food pantry in his closet, but a needs assessment survey on the campus showed much more was needed.
“Could we go a little bit further with this and actually start a food pantry or food bank initiative – and make it a big deal for the student body that will be all-inclusive and all access?” he wondered. The students reached out to regional food banks, found a location on campus, and spent nearly two years developing a plan.
The students pitched their detailed plan for a Tiger Resource Room to Whataburger leaders including CEO Ed Nelson, who unanimously threw the company’s support behind the project. The Tiger Resource Room Powered by Whataburger will open in the Grambling Student Union during the 2020 fall semester, providing emergency food supplies and basic hygiene needs.
“Whataburger is committed to helping students achieve their dreams of a college education and reach career goals. All too often, these can be impacted by the struggle for basic needs,” said Ed Nelson, Whataburger President. “We hope the Tiger Resource Room will provide students healthy food and essential supplies to allow them to successfully continue on their college education journey.”
Grambling students will run the resource room, developing management and business skills as they work with partners including the Food Bank of Northeast Lousiana and SodexoMagic, the university’s food services contractor. As the dream becomes a reality, leaders say their biggest success will be helping students realize there’s no shame in asking for help.
Whataburger has focused on its fresh, made-to-order burgers and friendly customer service since 1950 when Harmon Dobson opened the first Whataburger as a small roadside burger stand in Corpus Christi, Texas. Today, the company is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, with more than 830 locations in 10 states and sales of more than $2.5 billion annually. Whataburger has 46,000 Family Members (employees) and more than 14 million customers who like to customize their Whataburgers just the way they like it. Visit whataburger.com for more information.