Wesley Food Pantry open during summer

Jason Howell, Editor-in-Chief

The Wesley Food Pantry, located at the EIU Wesley Foundation, 2202 Fourth St, is open during the summer to serve members of the Eastern community.

So far this summer, the food pantry has served an average of 10 households and 24 individuals per distribution day, according to the Rev. Paige Roberts, campus minister of the Wesley Foundation.

During the school year, 231 households were served, feeding 355 people.

A shopping model is used for the pantry, where clients can choose food from different food groups, letting people choose what to eat and cutting down on wasted food.

“We have a protein section, fruit/vegetable/grain section and then other (which is where the snack food such as crackers and cookies are),” she said.

This also allows students to choose food based on the availability of a kitchen and the desire to cook.

Any student, faculty or staff member is eligible to participate – all that is needed is a PantherCard brought with them. They also need to attest that their household income is 185 percent below poverty level. For example, one person needs to make less than $1,815 per month.

The food pantry, which first started in March 2015, was originally the idea of sociology professor Michael Gillespie and former director of student community service Rachel Fisher. At the same time, the Eastern Illinois Foodbank desired to expand their pantries to include the region’s college campuses and wanted to work with the EIU Wesley Foundation, after working with the Wesley Foundation at the University of Illinois, according to Roberts.

Since the EIF can only work with non-profits, they could not directly partner with EIU,” she said. “So I contacted everyone involved and said we would love to host the pantry if SCS and others would help support it.”

The pantry receives food from food drives occurring on campus, according to Roberts. The Student Accounting Society, different Greek organizations as well as Eastern’s Holiday Luncheon all had drives that have contributed food to the pantry.

The pantry also receives monetary donations that allow it to purchase food at the Eastern Illinois Foodbank, in order to round out their offerings.

“The foodbank has fantastic buying power and our $1 spend there is equivalent to at least $10 in the grocery store,” she said. “So we purchase items from EIF that we do not receive from food drives – primarily peanut butter, cereals, and snack foods.”

400 pounds of crackers and cookies can be purchased for $40, she said.

A goal is to open up an additional day each month starting in September.

“We now have the food supply for that and we know there are some students who cannot come on a Wednesday afternoon,” she said.

The food pantry is open on the second Wednesday of each month, from 2-6 p.m. For more information, call 217-348-8191, email [email protected] or visit http://eiuwesley.org/foodpantry.

Jason Howell can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]