Food Pantry

For some who choose to pursue their dreams of achieving a college education, worrying about grades is only one of the stressors they face. Hunger continues to be an issue in the United States and can sometimes be a major burden on college students. This burden can easily become an impediment to focusing on school and earning a degree, holding one back from reaching their goals. To help prevent this, the Southeastern Foundation established, and continues to fund, a Food Pantry to better serve those in need of this area of support—filling bellies as well as brains to help all students achieve success.

Many college students across the country deal with food insecurity, a state of not having a sufficient amount of affordable and nutritious food. Although reports vary, a 2016 study by The National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness estimates that close to half of college students in our country have struggled to afford meals. First-generation college students were found to be even more at risk, with 56 percent facing food insecurity.

This can result in much more than a rumbling stomach. The study also noted that food insecurity can be linked to an inability to buy a required textbook, missing a class, or even dropping a class altogether.

In addition to putting their education at risk, hunger also puts a student’s health in jeopardy. “Hunger and health are deeply connected,” claims Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. “People who are food insecure are disproportionately affected by diet-sensitive chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and according to research, food insecurity is also linked to many adverse effects to overall health.”

Food insecurity can be temporary, such as when an illness or change in working hours means a student’s paycheck is less than usual. But for students who struggle to keep up with the cost of tuition and housing, it is an ongoing situation.

Where are these scenarios happening? Everywhere—even on our own campus. According to Tasha Cooper, a University Advancement employee who helped establish and manage the Food Pantry when it was operated by the Southeastern Foundation, a 2013 survey found that more than half of Southeastern students either knew someone who faced food insecurity or experienced the issue themselves.

No matter the circumstances, students who are focused on where their next meal is coming from cannot fully focus on school. To help students fight food insecurity, more than 500 universities across the nation have opened their own campus food pantries. The Southeastern Food Pantry was established in 2013 and has been a model for other Louisiana universities starting their own programs.

Graduate Assistant Johannes Verhaegh helps stock supplies at the Southeastern Food Pantry.

“The food pantry is an awesome resource for Southeastern Students,” said Marjorie Parker, coordinator for Southeastern’s Office of Multicultural and International Student Affairs (MISA) and interim director of the Office for Student Engagement. “We have hundreds of students who use the pantry throughout the year. Many students are silently fighting battles that we know nothing about, and it is great that we have a resource for them to go to if they need it.”

Now managed under MISA, the Food Pantry provides nonperishable food items and hygiene products to Southeastern students who can visit once per week and choose up to 15 items. No personal information is necessary, and students only need to show their Southeastern ID to access the program.

Over the years, the Food Pantry has become more accessible and organized. It now has an email address ( to help students who may want to learn more about the service or schedule an appointment. This has improved opportunity as well as comfort for students to take advantage of this important resource.

Each year since its inception, more students have utilized the service. As of publication, April 2019 was the busiest month for the Food Pantry yet, with almost 300 students acquiring over 2,000 items, according to MISA Graduate Assistant Johannes Verhaegh.

Campus-based organization drives comprise a significant portion of the Food Pantry’s annual donations.

Many of the items that the students receive are a result of donations, and the uptick in use of the food pantry requires increased donations to keep items in stock. Most donations are received from Southeastern athletics and campus-based organization food drives, especially during the Thanksgiving season. But with hunger a concern throughout the year, personal and organizational donations, as well as help spreading the word about this on-campus resource, are always gratefully welcomed.

By providing food and much-needed items, no questions asked, the Southeastern Food Pantry is helping alleviate the burden of hunger for students—allowing them to better concentrate on their studies and remain on a path to success.

The Story Behind Chris Yandle’s New Book

Lucky Enough: A Year of a Dad’s Daily Notes of Encouragement and Life Lessons to His Daughter is a recently published non-fiction book by Chris Yandle, an adjunct instructor in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences Sport Management program. After penning notes of encouragement and guidance to his young daughter that went viral when he shared them on social media, he wove them into a heartfelt publication which was released this past fall. Yandle shared with us the story behind what led to that first note, the publication of his book, and what the project has meant to him.

Yandle_Chris_13270_cvr-v1.inddNot every story starts like a fairy tale, and the story behind why I started writing notes is paved with good intentions—although it’s a story at times I didn’t think would ever be written.

In my previous career, I spent more than a decade chasing my life’s dream of being a college athletics director. Chasing that dream required moving my family all across the country from Lafayette, Louisiana, to Waco, Texas, to Miami, Florida, to—finally— Atlanta, Georgia. When we arrived in Atlanta in 2014, I thought this was the most important stepping stone to achieving my career goals. At the age of 32, I thought I was getting closer to “making it” while putting my wife and two young children in a position to succeed.

Through our many moves as a family and the many moves I made before as a young adult, I learned many life lessons—some without pain and regret, while others were dripping in difficulty, heartache, and results that were oftentimes difficult to swallow. The most difficult lesson came in 2016 when I lost my job. My dream career path abruptly ended. We were some 600 miles from home with no plan in regard to what’s next.

My wife Ashleigh and I ultimately decided it was time to come home to Louisiana. We decided to move to Mandeville in St. Tammany Parish to give our kids a great education and stable quality of life for the first time. When we enrolled our kids in school, Ashleigh and I suddenly had the realization that our daughter Addison would start third grade at
one elementary school and then begin fourth grade at another school. That would be her fourth school in five years. This was not how we planned, and if we could do it all over again, we would have strived for more stability in our children’s school environment.

Nevertheless, she excelled in third grade and had been a resilient young lady through all of this transition . . . until fourth grade. She began exhibiting signs of anxiety, and since Ashleigh and I both battle anxiety and depression, we knew we didn’t want her anxiety to consume her. What’s a dad to do?

After I made Addison’s and our son Jackson’s lunches for the first day of school, I wrote their names on their new lunchboxes—because kids need new everything for the first day of school!—and after I wrote her name, I had an idea. I grabbed the Sharpie and wrote a message on her sandwich bag: Addy—Treat everyone like they are the most important person you’ll ever meet. Love, Dad. I took a picture of it, posted it on my social media platforms, and after that, I didn’t think twice about what I had done.

SLU014_Fall-2019_Inside_v1.inddI kept doing this for the next few weeks, seeing if Addison would say anything about the messages I wrote her. At least give me an ‘Ugh, dad!’ response. One morning, we were running late for school, and as I was hastily putting together their lunches, Addison reminded me: “Dad, don’t forget my lunch note!” On the outside, I was playing it cool, but on the inside, I was dancing and singing loudly! She does notice what I’m doing!

It was in that same week that her fourth-grade teacher asked me if it were OK if she used one of the notes to share with her class. Soon, her principal was following me on Facebook and lamenting that these notes were the highlight of her week. They were the first two people who suggested that I collect these notes and put them in a book.

Midway through Addison’s fourth-grade year in March 2018, I started a Kickstarter account to raise money to publish my book through an independent publisher out of New York City. In six weeks, I raised $3,500, and my dream of writing a book became a reality.

My book, Lucky Enough: A Year of a Dad’s Daily Notes of Encouragement and Life Lessons to His Daughter, was published in September 2018 and hit the shelves at Barnes & Noble locations in Metairie, Mandeville, and Lafayette in early 2019.

Since that first note I penned, I have written more than 300 notes to my daughter that range a variety of topics—but most importantly, they are a daily opportunity for me to tell Addison how much I love her.

More information on Yandle’s daily notes to his daughter can be found via TwitterFacebook, and Instagram at @chrisyandle.

By Chris Yandle

Innovators in Sustainability

Southeastern’s Sustainability Center has been awarded the Innovation Champion Award by the Louisiana Chapter of U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The university received the award for its innovative hybrid geothermal residence halls.

The two new state-of-the-art residence halls, Ascension and Twelve Oaks, are cooling and heating using energy from the ground.

Sustainability Manager Alejandro Martinez explained that with this type of system, pumps move heat from the ground to the building when the weather outside is chilly. When cooling is needed, the process is reversed. The result is a sustainable, environmentally friendly, and economical solution to heating and cooling. Given the conditions in Louisiana, he said, geothermal is a highly effective system for the South.

“Over time, it is projected that savings greater than 50 percent will be captured on energy expenses compared to a traditional method and build,” Martinez said. “Equally important on a university campus, the system also serves as a learning laboratory for real-world ready experiences for Southeastern students in various disciplines.”

USGBC is a nonprofit organization that houses Green Business Certification Inc., the only group to administer project certifications and professional credentials and certificates within the framework of the USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. LEED designation is the international standard for environmentally sound buildings.

UL System Names Southeastern Professor Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year

Award-winning novelist and Southeastern Louisiana University Assistant Professor of Creative Writing David Armand has been named the University of Louisiana System’s Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year. Armand was recognized recently at the UL System’s For Our Future Conference in Monroe.

“The Universities of Louisiana Outstanding Faculty Award is intended to recognize faculty with a commitment to higher education from within the University of Louisiana System. This award recognizes superior accomplishments in teaching, research and public service,” said UL System Communication Director Katelyn Wilkerson. “David Armand was selected from a highly eligible pool of nominees for his exemplification of the qualities of an outstanding faculty member.”

A native of Folsom and resident of Hammond with both undergraduate and graduate degrees in English from Southeastern, Armand is the author of three novels, two books of poetry and a memoir based on the mental health struggles of his mother. He is due to have another novel published later this year.

He has spoken at a number of universities as a visiting writer, including James Madison University, Southeast Missouri State University, and the Mississippi University for Women, where students studied Armand’s work and attended readings and workshops that he conducted.

Armand served as Writer-in-Residence at Southeastern from 2017-2019 and has been recognized as a Gambit Magazine “40 Under 40” recipient.

In 2016 he was honored with Southeastern’s President’s Award for Artistic Activity, the Southeastern Faculty Senate President’s Award, and was named the St. Tammany President’s Artist of the Year. His first novel, The Pugilist’s Wife, earned the George Garrett Fiction Prize, and his second novel, Harlow, was listed on Amazon’s best novels about dysfunctional families.

Armand has been recognized by reviewers as an up-and-coming Southern author whose works have been compared to William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, and Cormac McCarthy. He draws heavily from his experiences in south Louisiana in his work.

In addition to The Pugilist’s Wife and Harlow, his works include the novel The Gorge, the memoir My Mother’s House, and the book of poetry The Deep Woods.

Southeastern Student Wins History Channel’s Forged in Fire

Southeastern industrial technology freshman Cade Jenkins recently competed on the hit reality show Forged in Fire, thanks to his incredible blacksmithing skills and his decision to continue a family legacy, and won his “French Pioneer Sword” episode.

“My grandfather was a full-time blacksmith for 30 years, and he is unable to continue because of health issues,” said Jenkins. “So, I decided to carry on the legacy.”

Forged in Fire involves four bladesmiths competing in four rounds to create the best blade. The winner is crowned as the episode’s Forged in Fire champion and receives $10,000.

However, Jenkins’ decision to join the show was not an idea he came up with on his own. It was really his mother’s.

“One day I was watching the show with my family, critiquing the contestants and the things they were doing wrong,” said Jenkins. “My mom said, ‘Why don’t you do it then and show them how it’s done?’ and so I applied for the show.”

Jenkins calls his time on the set of the reality show the greatest experience of his life.

“I competed against three great smiths and even better men,” said Jenkins. “We are still friends to this day. It was a huge challenge to complete, but in the end it was so worth it.”

The Loranger resident started learning blacksmithing at the age of 12. He identifies himself as an architectural blacksmith, creating items like hinges, stair railing furniture, and custom knives.

When it comes to Jenkins favorite thing about blacksmithing, he explains that it is his passion along with the desire of his inner child.

“I may be 18, but like every man, I still have a 13-year-old boy inside of me who loves fire and beating on things,” said Jenkins. “It is a passion of mine and every project has its own little story because everything I make is made from scratch by hand.”

As an industrial technology major, Jenkins plans to be a welder. He wants to merge his skill set as a blacksmith with the new information he learns in his program at Southeastern to create works of art.

“When learning how to blacksmith, I learned how to heat, treat, and temper metal, but I never knew the science behind my craft,” said Jenkins. “I only knew how to physically do it. In the little time I have been at Southeastern, I have learned so much information that I have brought it to my shop, and it has made me a better blade-smith and blacksmith.”

After graduating from Southeastern with a degree in welding inspection and material testing, Jenkins hopes to combine his current knowledge of metallurgy through blacksmithing to become the best in the business.

Cade Jenkins


Department of History and Political Science Presents Black History Month Lecture Series

The Department of History and Political Science at Southeastern Louisiana University will host its annual lecture series in honor of Black History Month.

This series will feature three lectures that are all free and open to the public.

The first lecture, “Creole Culture and Civil Rights: The New Orleans Connection,” by Tim Chauvin, is scheduled for Monday, February 17, at 2 p.m. in the Student Union Theatre.

“Chauvin will discuss the important role New Orleans’ unique creole culture of music and food helped play in American’s Civil Rights Movement,” said Department Head of History and Political Science Bill Robison.

“From Congo Square to Dooky Chase’s restaurant, New Orleans provides a fascinating window into how music and food helped bring people together,” he said.

The next lecture, given by Zachary Isenhower and titled “The Haitian Revolution and the Challenge of Decolonization,” is scheduled for Wednesday, February 19, at 11 a.m. in the Student Union Theatre.

“Zachary Isenhower will compare the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1804 with the American and French Revolutions and challenge the conventional wisdom that it was characterized throughout by unthinking violence, was the least successful revolution of the era, and produced a failed state,” said Robison.

“Frantz Fanon: An Introduction to a Black Militant Philosopher,” the last lecture of the series, is scheduled Monday, March 2, at 12:30 p.m. in the Student Union Theatre. It will be given by Peter Gratton.

“Peter Gratton will discuss Fanon’s ‘Black Skin / White Masks’ and ‘Wretched of the Earth’ showing him to be a forerunner of critical race theory, an uneasy defender of violence, and prescient about how the uses of violence could lead to the kinds of government found across Africa after the colonial period ended,” said Robison.

In addition to the on-campus events, Southeastern students will participate in a Live Black History Museum at the Tangipahoa African American Heritage Museum in Hammond on Monday, February 17, at 6:30 p.m. The event is sponsored by MISA; SGA; NAACP; and Phi Teta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and is open to the public.

Grit and Grace: Celebrating 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage

In commemoration of the centennial of women’s suffrage in the United States, Southeastern is hosting Grit & Grace: 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage, a one-day conference including individual research papers, panel discussions, round table discussions of works in progress, and poster presentations that address women’s issues and progress across the disciplines of history, English, communication, political science, and sociology.

Scheduled for March 5 on the third floor of the Student Union, the goal of the conference is to not only document the highs and lows of a social movement that took 72 years to achieve enfranchisement of women, but also to highlight social issues that threatened to upend it and which still fester today, including issues of race, class, and fear of inexorable demographic change.

The conference is part of the on-going Southeastern Centennial Women’s Suffrage Project (CWSP), a multi-faceted initiative that celebrates the history of the women’s suffrage movement both in Louisiana and as a whole in the United States. In addition to on-campus educational programming, CWSP has also organized a series of public offerings across the region that include lectures and panel discussions, a traveling exhibition, and an upcoming documentary.

The March 5 event will be the first in an annual conference series hosted by Southeastern, with each year’s multi-disciplinary program focusing on a different topic in women’s issues. An EqualiTEA reception will follow the conference sessions, during which a Woman of Achievement award will be presented to one highly-accomplished individual who has made an outstanding positive impact.

The conference is open to the public. For more information, please visit