Tamara Garrett ’23 arranges boxed macaroni and cheese, cans of soup and packaged snacks on shelves. With the fall semester underway at the University of Mary Washington, she wants to ensure that the Gwen Hale Resource Center (GHRC) is fully stocked.
“Most people don’t like to ask for help, but we want students to know that no matter what they need, Mary Washington has resources available for them,” said Garrett, who graduated in May. Now working on the UMW campus as part of AmeriCorps, she’s focused on alleviating food insecurity among college students.
Years in the making, GHRC began on a much smaller scale to address that very issue, thanks to a caring UMW administrator who noticed students who didn’t have enough to eat. Members of the Mary Washington community banded together, donating funds to open and operate a two-room food pantry in the attic of Lee Hall in 2019, joining other public and private colleges and universities across Virginia that have developed similar programs. Committed to carrying out Gwen Hale’s legacy, the University renamed the space in her honor after she passed away in 2021.
“So many students were coming to me and saying they had no laundry detergent, no winter coats, no clothing for interviews or student teaching, and no money for food,” said Hale, then director of UMW’s Writing Center, when GHRC first opened. “I figured if these students had the guts to come to me, how many did not?” Read more.