ECU’s food pantry renamed, donors honored

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) -ECU is celebrating an initiative that’s helped thousands of students – and it is now being renamed.

The name honors two donors – Dr. Billy Williams and Dr. Dennis Ross. Their support has kept ECU’s Purple Pantry going – as a place for students to get food and household items.

On the second floor of ECU’s student center – is a place for students to grab food, hygiene, and household items for free, now known as the Williams-Ross Purple Pantry.

Ashanti Cuthrell, an ECU student, is grateful for the pantry because it helps her feel supported.

“I started off coming to the Purple Pantry by volunteering, which students can do. It made me feel less insecure by not having a lot of food options available at home or without college as a whole because it is hard,” says Cuthrell.

With rising food prices, it has become harder for students to afford to feed themselves. Donor Dr. Dennis Ross says he’s glad this pantry keeps students from going hungry.

“10 to 15 percent of ECU students are food insecure and we are looking at trying to figure out ways to combat that and be able to let these kids be able to go to school and not have to think about their next meal,” says Ross.

Purple Pantry assistant Chelsea Hewett has used the resource herself and says it’s been rewarding to see other students take advantage.

“It is a great experience being able to assist other students, I think many students aren’t aware of some of the resources that are available to them or their stigmas or stereotypes associated with utilizing certain resources so us being able to break those barriers and help meet students where they are and meet this needs is a great feeling,” says Hewett.

Students have been able to collect their most needed food and hygiene items since 2018 when the pantry opened.

The mission of the ECU Williams-Ross Purple Pantry is to decrease food insecurity among ECU students and increase access to personal care items.