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Kroger makes $11K donation to the Ole Miss food bank and pantry

The much-anticipated renovation to Oxford’s Kroger on University Avenue began on Monday, and in conjunction with the project getting underway, the store provided some relief to college students struggling to afford food.

Kroger donated a total of $11,000 to Ole Miss’ food bank and pantry on Thursday. The Ole Miss pantry received $10,000, and $1,000 went to the school’s food bank. The University is still working on getting all its data collected for the fall semester, but representatives from the food bank estimate around 100 to 150 students will utilize their resources. The food bank is located at Kinard Hall in room 213.

The food bank was recently given approval to put signage on Oxford University Transit buses, whose routes go through campus. They will also begin weighing food that goes out, to help calculate the number of meals provided to students.

“It means that our pantry will be a lot more stocked and be more well-rounded,” Maddie Keane, with the food bank, said. “Usually, we are fueled by campus donations and donation drives. So, those can be kind of intermittent, and (this donation) will maintain the pantry throughout the whole year and keep it looking fresh.”

The food bank will place an order with Kroger, using the money donated to them. Items that are commonly asked for include rice, bread, dry beans, ramen noodles, dry pasta, peanut butter and macaroni and cheese, as well as steamed vegetable bags that can be placed in the freezer to stay fresh.

“Financial hardships and food insecurity are some of the main reasons students may leave or step away from their education for a period of time,” Kate Forster, director of advocacy at Ole Miss, said.  “So taking just a little bit of that off their plate and giving them a little bit (of help) through the end of the month to the next paycheck can really make a difference with a student in order to stay enrolled.”

Kroger’s store will double its current size once the renovation project is completed, which is anticipated to be Fall of 2020. The 58,000-square-foot store will nearly double to 109,448 square feet. The first stage of the project started this week and will involve demolishing the shopping center adjacent to Kroger and making it part of the grocery store’s bigger footprint.

New additions include a Starbucks, a sushi station and a restaurant that has not been officially decided yet. Kroger’s pickup service, formerly known as ClickList, will be included in the store’s upgrades, as will an outdoor seating area and a double drive-thru for the pharmacy.