College expanding student service programs

Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 5:07 PM CDT
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BATESVILLE, Ark. (KAIT) - A Northeast Arkansas college will unveil upgrades to two student services this week.

Lyon College announced it would expand two services to help students with food insecurity and anxiety issues.

On Tuesday, the college ceremoniously cut the ribbon on its new “Zen Den.”

The Zen Den offers a calming place for students to take a moment away from their daily worries.

“Just giving students a place to come in and relax, take time away from their busy schedules, the stress and anxiety that they’re experiencing, and calm down,” Blue and You Foundation Executive Director Rebecca Pittillo said.

The expansion was made possible by a grant from the Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s Blue and You Foundation.

The new facility isn’t the only thing included in the grant funding.

“It also is funding mental health first aid training. It’s funding suicide prevention training across the staff,” Pittillo said.

Lyon Student Peyton Richardson said he’s looking forward to utilizing it.

“It’s always good to have that one place to go to. I think the Zen Den will be that for a lot of people. There are midterms, there’s finals, and all things. College kind of beats you down, so it’s really nice to have that place to come to,” Richardson explained.

The second expansion will be unveiled on Friday.

A Walmart Foundation grant allowed the college to expand its “Serving Our Students Food Pantry.”

The food pantry began as a small project in 2018 and has grown significantly yearly.

“We have about 20 kids a week that we see come through these doors to gain the food and necessary items that they need to make it through the week.”

Students can come through the pantry and take food, hygiene, and other items.

Student Luke Bridges explained this is something needed by his fellow classmates.

“As a college student, especially if you’re one that doesn’t come from the best background, this is extremely important to you,” Bridges said.

The pantry is in need of non-perishable food items, frozen food, toiletries, and cleaning items.

For more information, visit the college’s website.