Food pantry provides for Eastern students

Kate Figlewski, Staff Reporter

The Newman Center offers a weekly food pantry for Eastern students that need groceries.

The food pantry is in the basement of the Newman Center every Monday from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and every Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The pantry is available for any Eastern student with a Panther Card.

While the pantry is open this semester, Roy Lanham, director of campus ministry, said things are being done slightly different because of COVID-19.

“We have a shopping list so students can mark on the shopping list what they would like,” Lanham said. “They go downstairs and hand that list off to two or three volunteer students, and then they fill their order and hand them back their bag.”

The food pantry does not provide bags, so students must bring their own.

“They bring their own shopping bag. Reusable bags, we ask,” Lanham said.

Lanham said they are also practicing social distancing while students get what they need.

“We can have up to three volunteers easily downstairs,” Lanham said. “We only allow two people down there at a time to get food, so other people have to wait upstairs, and there’s plenty of waiting upstairs,” Lanham said.

The food pantry offers a variety of foods including canned goods, bread and refrigerated goods.

“We were blessed by a retired faculty member, donated money for us to buy two refrigerators and that made all the difference, so we are able to offer refrigerated goods,” Lanham said.

Lanham said popular items include milk, orange juice, eggs, cheese, bread, rice and spaghetti.

Some of the food is purchased by them from local stores, and some of the food is donated.

“We get donations of canned goods and other things from one church in particular in town here: the Wesley United Methodist Church,” Lanham said.

While they do have some donations every month, the pantry is always open to anyone who would like to donate food or money to buy food.

“That would be great for them just to reach out to us and just say ‘Hey, once a month I’m shopping for stuff, what can I get?’” Lanham said. “And then we always take cash donations, cash is king because right now we’re spending probably about $600 a month on our food pantry.”

Not only can people donate, but students and faculty are able to volunteer to work at the food pantry each semester.

“It’s wonderful that people volunteer, I’m a firm believer that people need to say to themselves, ‘I want to try something and I’m going to try it for a semester,’” Lanham said.

While the food pantry is something they wish did not need to happen, Lanham said they are happy to have it for people that need it.

“In my heart, I always wished people were not food insecure. I wish we didn’t have to have a food pantry at Eastern Illinois University,” Lanham said. “I’m glad we’re able to do it. I’m glad we’re able to provide this resource for our students that helps them stretch their dollars and to help to deal with the issue of food insecurity.”

 

Kate Figlewski can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]