Food pantry helps with food insecurity on campus

Mercury Bowen, Entertainment Reporter

The Newman Food Pantry will be open more hours each week thanks to a partnership with The Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism.

According to research studies performed by professor Michael Gillespie, nearly 40 percent of Eastern’s students identified as risk factors for food insecurity.

“Food insecurity is when you don’t know when your next meal is going to be and also if that meal will be nutritionally adequate,” Beth Gillespie said. “I woke up this morning and I knew I was going to have a healthy breakfast, a healthy lunch and a healthy dinner to fuel my body for the things I want to do, but we have students who get up and who are having a Red Bull and some Doritos for breakfast. While sometimes that can be a fun choice to make, doing that all the time is not nutritionally adequate.”

Michael Gillespie said his main reason for performing the research studies was because he noticed food insecurity becoming an issue on campus.

“I’ve always researched a lot of issues around poverty and food,” Michael Gillespie said. “In the past several years I’ve started to notice that it’s starting to become an issue with some of the students that I was working with.”

Beth Gillespie said the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism partnered with the Newman Food Pantry to better assist students who fell within that risk factor.

“We know that when students are not eating the right kind of food it can have an impact on their academic outcomes,” Beth Gillespie said. “If you’re hungry and you haven’t eaten in a couple days, it’s going to be really hard to pay attention in class and really hard to focus on learning.”

The Newman Food Pantry will be open Mondays from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Students, faculty or staff who have a Panther card will be allowed to attend the food pantry one time per week.

Beth Gillespie said those seeking help do not need to be affiliated with the church to attend the food pantry.

“The whole intent of it is we’re just trying to help our students understand that there are resources here in town,” Beth Gillespie said. “There are resources that are very close to campus, like the Newman Center.”

The food pantry is important, Beth Gillespie said, because it can be hard to see if a student is suffering just by looking at them.

“Hunger is an easy thing to hide,” Beth Gillespie said. “It doesn’t have a look to it. It can be an easy thing to cover up and not talk about, but there are places here in our community that want to help somebody to the very best they can at school and at work.”

Beth Gillespie said people should not be ashamed to ask for assistance with food.

“We know that people can be embarrassed about needing that help,” Beth Gillespie said. “We’re hopeful that they’ll give us a chance and see that friendly people are there. There’s zero judgment being placed. We are just literally wanting to help people put food on their table so that they can do well in their life.”

Mercury Bowen can be reached at 581-2812 or

[email protected].