ASU holds grand opening for Whataburger Resource Room



Whataburger rep, trustee, university administrators, staff and faculty cut the ribbon during the opening of the Resource Room

Cullen Davis, Senior Staff Reporter/Writer

Alabama State University hosted the grand opening of the University’s Student Resource Room (Resource Room) in partnership with Whataburger on Wednesday, Sept. 1, at 10 a.m. in 104 Paterson Hall. The grand opening began with a news conference hosted by university President Quinton T. Ross, Jr., Ed.D.
“We have been proud to provide a food pantry for our students for the past few years; however, this new Student Resource Room takes that effort to another level,” said Ross. “This room will be specifically dedicated to providing food, toiletry items, cleaning supplies and other resources to those students who find themselves in need of those items. We appreciate the partnership with Whataburger and other community partners in making this resource available to ASU students.”
According to the interim chair of the social work department, professor Denise Davis-Maye, items in the Resource Room assisted a student in need with her infant and needed items. The fact that it did not take long for the first student to inquire and receive help shows the importance and impact this room will have.
Whataburger corporate executive Jay Cox, who is based in Tennessee, said that their company believes that no student should ever have to choose between buying a textbook or groceries. He shared that the new Student Resource Room powered by Whataburger also will include a clothing closet where students can find business attire for professional development activities, interviews, and other occasions. Attire from the clothing closet also will be available to students at no cost.
“Whataburger is proud to partner with Alabama State University to provide enhanced access to food products and toiletries through the opening of the Alabama State University Student Resource Room powered by Whataburger,” Cox said. “With the help of partners like the Montgomery Area Food Bank, students will have year-round access to nutritious food options at no cost to them.”
Cox said that the enhanced Student Resource Room is made possible by Whataburger’s three-year commitment of support as part of the Whataburger Feeding Student Success program to help students succeed on their college journey.
The Alabama State University Resource Room powered by Whataburger is the first of its Resource Rooms to open in Alabama and is the third to open in the nation. The first was last year at the University of Texas at San Antonio. The second opened in January at Grambling State University in Louisiana.
It was not a distant memory for Raven Brown to recall extreme hardships and challenges for some students. Her time in undergrad at Alabama State University had her see firsthand some of the difficulties students had to face during their college journey. “I remember students sleeping in their cars and not having meals at night,” said Brown. Brown now works as a social work graduate student at ASU, helping change current students’ lives.
Brown will serve as the store manager of Alabama State’s new resource room. The university renovated the former classroom to provide a mix of the food pantry and professional clothing items. Food will be perishable and nonperishable, along with hygiene and household products. Everything will be free to ASU students who exemplify the needs.
“The students can come down to get a jug of milk and some cereal to take to their rooms and have for the week,” said Jennifer Anderson, ASU’s executive director of Advancement Initiatives. “Or they can get a new button-down shirt to make sure they’re in compliance with rules for the College of Business.” Items like diapers and wipes will also be offered for students with young children. “This makes sure that our students are not only well-fed, but they’re ready and prepared for the world,” Anderson said.
Speaking during the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Ross praised the work done to prepare it and recognized that there are food insecurity issues at the university.
“I am excited about today and our pushing forward for student success as we open this new Student Resource Room through the help of Whataburger and with the guidance of Dr. Davis-Maye. We have been proud to provide a food pantry for our students for the past few years; yet, this new Student Resource Room takes that effort to another level,” said Ross. We appreciate the partnership with Whataburger and other community partners in making this resource available to ASU students.”
Davis-Maye, who could not hold back tears while speaking, said this kind of work and support is at the very center of ASU’s goals. “We educate, but we also provide,” she said.
Davis-Maye told the crowd of well-wishers that the Student Resource Room would also offer workshops and seminars for ASU students that focus on safe health practices for eating and lifestyle, and professional development. The social work department provides references to students for other resources both on campus and throughout the community. She explained that these services include varied types of health counseling, employment assistance training, and many other forms of resources that benefit and uplift the students.
In addition to the tangible resources, coordinators of the Student Resource Room will assist in the mentorship and educational internships of ASU students by providing informal volunteer peer mentoring opportunities, as well as formal educational internships in countless programs, including those housed within the social work department, where faculty will be available to provide confidential assistance to students in need of their services.
“We want our Student Resource Room to be a welcoming resource to all of the University’s students in need,” Davis-Maye stated. “Thanks to the wonderful assistance and support by Whataburger, O’ Mother Dear has done it again!”