Tarleton State University students are stepping up to help classmates concentrate on coursework instead of hungry stomachs.

With the help of Sodexo, Tarleton’s partner in dining services, students have donated $6,053 to help restock the university’s food pantry. Students gave $3,053 in unused dining dollars, and Sodexo matched their gift with $3,000 worth of wholesale food.

A student-run effort, the Tarleton Food Pantry opened its doors in 2015 to provide Texans with healthy, nourishing meals when finances are low and when dining services close for holidays.

Sophomore Morgan Salas started the push to donate unused dinning dollars with an email to Tarleton President F. Dominic Dottavio just before winter break last year. Since then more than 700 Texans have participated.

“I only came up with the idea,” the pre-vet major said. “Everyone else made it possible. In all honesty, I didn’t think it would make such a big difference. All the credit goes to the students who donated their extra dollars and the support from Dr. Dottavio and university faculty and staff.

“It’s great to see not only a difference made, but to witness the unity and compassion of the entire Tarleton family.”

According to Erin Warner, coordinator of Tarleton’s Leadership and Service Programs, anytime is a good time to give to the Tarleton Food Pantry.

Suggested food items include: tuna or chicken (canned or pouches); peanut and almond butter; fruit cups and cans of fruit that do not need refrigeration; dried fruit; applesauce; granola; nuts and crackers; canned vegetables; canned/microwavable soups, chili, rice and pasta; oatmeal and dry cereal; pudding cups; and packaged muffins. Personal hygiene items also are accepted.

Checks can be made to Tarleton State University, noting “food pantry” in the memo, and mailed to: Tarleton State University-Office of Diversity & Inclusion, Box T-0490, Stephenville, Texas 76402.