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BY [Asia JOHNSON]

It is not often that a health-care facility functions as a one-stop shop for all thingscoffee, contraception, oral care items, and even food. But FAMU’s Student Health Services Center isn’t your ordinary clinic; it’s a home away from home and the matron at its helm is Tanya Tatum. The oldest of six siblings, Tanya Tatum never became a mother. But with her selfless work at the center, Tatum continues to be a mother figure to many.

3 FOOD FOR THOUGHT Student Health Services Director Tanya Tatum promotes food security to ensure students have a successful college experience.

Steel cabinets full of nonperishable food items line the hallway leading to Tatum’s office. In one room across the hall, her eager volunteers methodically label and package food items for distribution to those in need. There was a time that the center didn’t provide as much support, but under Tatum’s leadership as director, Student Health Services has evolved into so much more. Its staffers are no longer reaching into their own pockets to help students eat and instead receive 550 to 1,000 pounds of food per week through several avenues — including the Farm Share program in Quincy, Fla. Harriet Jennings, office manager of Student Health Services, describes Tatum as a “mother lion,” fearlessly protecting FAMU students as if

5 STUDENTS FIRST Partnering with the Farm Share Program is just one of the many ways Student Health Services ensures the overall well-being of FAMU students.

they are her own. “A student came in with a stomach ache and it was revealed he was waiting on his mother to get paid at the end of the month and had no food,” Jennings said. “Tanya took $200 of her own money and bought the student and his neighbor groceries.” Jennings added, “That student became like a son to both of us and I am glad to say he has graduated and is stationed in Virginia with the U.S. Navy.” Tatum’s generosity is rooted in understanding. She revealed that she herself struggled with getting enough nutritious foods to eat while in college. “I remember being a very poor grad student,” she said. “I remember going to the store with $5 and thinking, ‘What can I buy with this?’ I remember being hungry and

not having enough money to take care of bills, rent, and transportation. It was difficult.” “When I came here it became very clear very early that students sometimes have difficulty feeding themselves,” Tatum continued. “We have had students pass out.” According to a startling new survey of more than 4,000 undergraduates at 10 colleges across the nation by the Wisconsin Hope Lab, half of all community college students are struggling with food and/ or housing insecurity. Seven percent of these students admitted that they have gone an entire day without nourishment, and five percent of polled students at the university level agreed. Food insecurity is the limited availability of nutritious foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire food in socially 4

A&M MAGAZINE // SPRING 2016 // 25

Profile for FAMU Communications

Spring 2016 A&M Magazine  

In this issue of A&M Magazine we tell the story of FAMU’s rich tradition of empowerment. Our cover story, “Planting Hope,” chronicles the...

Spring 2016 A&M Magazine  

In this issue of A&M Magazine we tell the story of FAMU’s rich tradition of empowerment. Our cover story, “Planting Hope,” chronicles the...