Everyday Heroes

Compassionate College Student Runs Food Pantry Out Of Dorm To Help Hungry Classmates

With the high cost of tuition, some students don't have money left for food.

My, how one question can change someone’s life.

Justin Franks, a 20-year-old college student at Alabama A&M University, heard some fellow students talking about how they were going to bed hungry. The campus cafeteria closes at 6 p.m., before some students can get there for dinner. But, many cannot afford to eat at off-campus restaurants.

“So, I thought about it and said, ‘What can I give back to my community?'” Franks told ABC News.

His answer was to start a food pantry in the dorm where he works as a desk assistant. All he had was $40 to buy Capri Sun pouches and instant noodles. But relying on faith and the power of sharing Facebook posts, Franks has been able to grow his dorm-based food pantry, which is currently set up in an old mail room.

Donations have come from other faculty members, alumni and groups throughout the Normal, Alabama, community. With donated funds, Franks has been able to stock his food pantry with goodies like soup, granola bars, chips, oatmeal and personal hygiene products—all available for free to students in need.

“I didn’t think it would get shared that much, but people really cared about our students and Alabama A&M University,” Franks told WHNT New 19.

The rules for the pantry are simple: Students can visit twice a week and pick any three items. The school cafeteria closes at 6 p.m., so the pantry is open from 6 until 11 p.m.

“A lot of students are busy and might not have time to get to the cafeteria before it closes, but it’s important they still get to eat,” Franks said.

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Justin Franks/Facebook

So far, Franks has been able to help about 100 of his classmates. Students have come up to him and thanked him for his service.

“To me, it just makes me feel like I’m blessing someone,” Franks said. “I’m a religious person and I feel like I can bless a student. Some nights, students will be like ‘Man, I really appreciate this because I didn’t have anything to eat.'”

Franks hopes the pantry keeps going long after he graduates, as he’s already training someone else to run it.

“‘Service Is Sovereignty’ is our school’s motto and I want to live up to that,” he said. “I’m hoping that we can keep expanding the pantry and that it’ll continue for years to come.”