NORMAN, Oklahoma – Best Western Plus Norman has formed a new, ongoing partnership with the University of Oklahoma Food Pantry to provide a regular supply of personal hygiene products. More than 4,000 products – including shampoo, razors, body wash, mouthwash, deodorant and other toiletries – were presented to OU Food Pantry Graduate Director Matt Marks on Monday.
“We are extremely honored to kick off this partnership with the OU Food Pantry,” said Steve Martens, CEO of Hospitality Management LLC, which operates four Best Western-branded properties in Oklahoma and Kansas. “This is the second time one of our hotels has partnered with a local food bank, and we’ve found it’s one of the best ways to give back to our local communities. Last fall, we partnered with the Lawrence, Kan., food bank, Just Food, as part of the grand opening of our Best Western Plus West Lawrence property. Organizations like Just Food and the OU Food Pantry provide a tremendously important service, and support families and students who might not otherwise afford the food and necessities that most of us take for granted.”
Best Western Plus Norman’s GM Linsey Kennedy said, “Food pantries are becoming increasingly important on college campuses, where students sometimes have to choose between paying their college expenses and buying nutritious, healthy food. And for many students, it’s even harder to afford other necessities such as toiletries. Best Western Plus Norman is pleased that we can help fill that void by making quarterly product donations to the OU Food Pantry.”
Marks says the OU Food Pantry, now in its third year of operation, serves 50 – 70 students each week, and hopes to reach even more students, staff or faculty who may be in need.
“Our mission is to contribute to the overall health and wellness of the OU campus community by providing supplemental food assistance. By providing these non-food items, Best Western Plus Norman is expanding our ability to serve our audience and make a difference,” Marks said. “It’s the Norman community helping out OU, and we just can’t ask for anything better.”
According to a study conducted in part by the University Food Bank Alliance, “nearly half of college students will encounter some level of food insecurity at some point in their academic careers,” said Lyssa Murray, an international business and human resource management senior at OU and front office manager at the hotel who was instrumental in arranging the partnership. “We hope our ongoing donations brings more awareness to the OU Food Pantry and eases the burden on students.”
For her efforts at the hotel and in the community, Murray was honored by Best Western Hotels & Resorts with the 2018 Heroic Hospitality Stars Award. Among staff of all 2,100 Best Western properties in North America, Murray was the only employee to receive the award.
For more information on the OU Food Pantry, see http://www.ou.edu/foodpantry