KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Pellissippi State Community College is fighting food insecurity on and off campus. The recent Pellissippi Pantry expansion is keeping students and their families stocked with food.

“That we can provide a space that used to be a closet, literally a closet, and now they are able to come into this market and have some choices,” said Anna Graham, the director of Annual Giving and Scholarships.

The walk-in pantry on the Hardin Valley campus is nearly seven times bigger and next door is another room dedicated entirely to storage and packing. The shelves are lined with canned food, dry food, fresh produce and other household essentials. The pantry relies 100% on donations.

“We need beans. Beans are flying off the shelves!” said Graham.

Graham says the pantry’s new design restores some autonomy and dignity to the process.

“It’s scary and uncomfortable to have to ask for help and when you’re asking for help coming into a market space that makes you feel like it’s okay this is normalizing, we’re not coming into a situation where we are just handing you something,” said Graham.

People can shop for their items, rather than have their food pre-packaged. They are assigned points monthly, based on their household size, and each item has a set amount.

“We had a homeless student, and he used his points to come in and get Pop-Tarts because the place he was staying he couldn’t cook food,” said Sandra Davis-Bullis, a specialist for Student Care and Advocacy.

She says it’s important to stock ready-to-eat food for people who are facing housing insecurities and don’t have access to a kitchen or appliances.

Participants on Pellissippi’s other campuses can submit their orders online. It will then be packed and delivered to their chosen campus every other week.

Davis-Bullis is looking forward to being able to serve those in need without any storage limitations.

“Come on, we will make you feel loved, and we will make you feel at home, and we’ve got something for everybody,” said Davis-Bullis.

The Pellissippi Pantry is on the Hardin Valley Campus in Portable D. As part of the college’s Giving Tuesday challenge, gifts to the pantry will be matched up to $5,000. People can visit pellissippistatefoundation.org/giving-tuesday to make a contribution.