Hunger Action Month kicks off with ‘Pie a Celeb’

Analicia Haynes, Editor-in-Chief

Students will have a chance to throw pies at “Eastern celebrities” while supporting the three food pantries in Charleston from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 8 in the Library Quad.

The event was originally supposed to take place on Nov. 1 but was moved because of inclement weather.

“Pie a Celeb” is hosted by the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism.

Alex Martens, a grad assistant in the office and the one to spearhead the planning for Hunger Action Month, said some of the celebrities include Eastern President David Glassman, Nathan Weir, the interim director of fraternity and sorority programs, Mark Hudson, the director of housing and dining, several resident assistants and people from academics and athletics.

“We’re trying to cover all of our bases,” Martens said, referring to the recruitment of Eastern celebrities from Greek life to academic services and everywhere in between.

For a $1 donation, people can throw shaving cream pies at someone of their choice.

Crystal Brown, the assistant director of the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism, said all the money collected from the event will be divided among the three food pantries in Charleston.

Those food pantries are the Charleston Area Churches Food Pantry located at 990 W State St., the EIU Food Pantry at the Newman Center located at 500 Roosevelt Ave. and the Standing Stone Carpenter’s Table Food Pantry located at 375 N 14th St.

What is Hunger Action Month

All month long the Eastern community can learn about food insecurity and help local food pantries by participating in the scheduled events and donating canned goods or money.

Nationally, Hunger Action Month takes place in September, however Beth Gillespie, the director of the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism, said the office scheduled their version in November because people tend to focus on local hunger issues closer to Thanksgiving.

“We wanted to capitalize on that,” Beth Gillespie said.

Martens said the planning for Hunger Action Month started in August and he was able to use his past experience of planning for his fraternity’s week-long event that supported Feeding America to help him plan events throughout the month.

He said this year the office looked for well-rounded events that would bring in food donations, and he said he also wanted to bring back the “academic portion” as well, which will inform students about food insecurity on campus and in Coles County through a lecture called “Let’s Talk Hunger” and “Nutrition 101.”

He also said the office worked on building their relationship with other organizations on campus to help with sponsorships such as teaming up with the Health Education Resource Center and hosting events together.

Brown said the overall focus of the month is to educate and bring awareness to the food insecurities that exist on campus and in Coles County.

Food insecurity refers to the USDA’s measure of a lack of access to enough food for an active, healthy life style and limited or uncertain availability to nutritionally adequate foods.

According to data collected by sociology professor Michael Gillespie (who is also a member on the EIU Hunger Action Team), 39.8 percent of students (out of 344 students who responded to a survey) showed signs of food insecurity.

In the same data, 86.1 percent of the 344 students that responded worried about running out of food, 88.3 percent could not afford to eat balanced meals and 81.6 percent cut the size or skipped meals because of money.

Martens said prior to planning for the month, he did not realize “how bad it was at Eastern” in terms of food insecurity.

He said before, he focused on food insecurity among adults, but when he came to Eastern to finish his master’s degree, he realized that it still exists among college students.

“I definitely opened my eyes when my own cohort asked me about food assistance,” he said.

Brown said the events throughout the month will help students who may need help know what resources they have, and Beth Gillespie said it is a safe way for students to find these resources without having to make their situation public.

Martens said that the month can also get students to start talking about food insecurities on campus and open the door for conversation and eventually break the stigma surrounding people who need food pantries or food stamps.

Huddle Up Against Hunger

Those interested in participating in Hunger Action Month can also participate in “Huddle Up Against Hunger.”

Martens said the office teamed up with Eastern athletics to host a donation drive at several home games on campus.

Anyone who attends these games can make a canned good or monetary donation.

These games are the Eastern volleyball game at 7 p.m. Nov. 9 in Lantz Arena, the Eastern football game at 1 p.m. Nov. 11 at O’Brien Stadium, the Eastern women’s basketball game at 12 p.m. Nov. 15 in Lantz Arena and the Eastern men’s basketball game at 7 p.m. Nov. 28 in Lantz Arena.

Martens said so far the office is off to a great start in terms of donations from the games because he said from the two games that were hosted in October they brought in over 70 donations.


Brown said when it comes to the donations, anything counts, but she said when someone donates money versus canned food, volunteers are able to make that money stretch further.

She said if someone donates just a single dollar, then the food pantries can take that dollar and turn it into $10 worth of food because they are able to purchase the food at the Eastern Illinois Food Bank that is out of Champaign.

However, Beth Gillespie said that if someone decides to donate canned food, to not just donate the food that they would not eat and to instead donate any type of canned meat.

She said that is the number donation that food pantries need but is the least donated item.

Food Pantry Information

The Charleston Food Pantry is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1:30 to 4 p.m. and on Thursday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Volunteers from the office run the pantry on Thursday, Brown said. Anyone living in Coles County can go to the Charleston Food Pantry once every 30 days and must bring a photo ID and proof of Coles County residency.

The Standing Stone Food Pantry is open to anyone living in Coles County Wednesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. People can visit once every two weeks and must bring proof of Coles County residency.

The food pantry at the Newman Center is open Monday from 3 to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday from 4 to 5:30 p.m. and Friday from 11 to 12:30 p.m. Anyone with a panther card can go, and people can visit once a week.

Aside from the three food pantries in Charleston, there is also a Soup Stop located at 2125 Harrison Ave., which serves lunches from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and a Open Door Program located at 20 N 5th St.

The Open Door Program is open Tuesday and Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and people can come once every 30 days and must bring a driver’s license, social security card and proof of income

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].