In first year, Eastern’s food pantry helps over 950 students

Skylar+Oliver%2C+a+junior+elementary+education+major%2C+helps+Crevaughn+Borders%2C+a+sophomore+philosophy+major%2C+bag+her+food+that+she+picked+out+from+the+food+pantry+inside+McAfee+Gym+Friday+afternoon.

Yari Tapia

Skylar Oliver, a junior elementary education major, helps Crevaughn Borders, a sophomore philosophy major, bag her food that she picked out from the food pantry inside McAfee Gym Friday afternoon.

Kyara Morales-Rodriguez, Campus Reporter

The EIU Campus Food Pantry opened its doors a year ago on Oct. 1, 2021, and in that time, it has provided food for hundreds of Eastern students.  

According to University President David Glassman during his State of the University Address on Thursday, the food pantry has been a great success.

Our student affairs division was instrumental in the creation of a long-anticipated EIU Campus Food Pantry to assist EIU students in addressing food inequity and insecurity,” Glassman said. “During its first year, the pantry provided 8,613 meals to 540 unique students. The pantry itself is run by student volunteers, 301 of them last year, and is supported 100 percent through grants and donations. It is an inspiring example of students helping students.”

In its first year, the food pantry reportedly served over 950 students, and already this fall, it has seen nearly 300 more.  

One such student is Tyeisha Mosley, a senior Spanish education student, who said she used the food pantry for the first time this semester.  

“I don’t have a car anymore, so I can’t travel back and forth to Walmart for just little things,” Mosley said. “I think that being that [the food pantry is] on campus makes it a little bit more convenient for those who don’t have a car to go to Walmart to get some necessities.” 

Kristal Munoz, a junior criminology student, has been using the food pantry since it opened.  

Munoz said she started using the food pantry because she chose a meal plan that provided her with seven meals a week, a decision she had to make due to financial reasons.  

She said she felt fortunate to have a meal plan on campus, but at times, it was not enough for her.  

“The pantry provided me not only with the security of meals but also worked so much better with my schedule,” Munoz said. “There were times where I didn’t get home till 10 p.m. At that time, all the school offered was pizza. Though a great meal, pizza for dinner 3 times a week isn’t the greatest idea.” 

Munoz said she is glad she no longer has to think about where she is going to get meals from.  

Jordyn Glanton, a junior communication disorders and sciences student, said she has been using the food pantry since the previous spring.  

“Buying groceries is expensive and the pantry helps take some of that load off,” Glanton said. “The only necessities I would need to buy is meat, bread and dairy products.” 

Some Eastern students said that food insecurity has impacted their lives during their time at Eastern, and the food pantry has helped them with their food insecurity.  

Glanton said that food insecurity has impacted her time at Eastern. She said that in previous school years, she had the seven-day meal plan Eastern offers. 

“I really had to stretch my meal plan and Dining Dollars to make sure I ate everyday,” Glanton said.  

Glanton said she is glad that if she is going through a hard time, she can depend on the food pantry. She said she currently has no meal plan, which means she has to cook her own meals, and the food pantry provides her with enough food to last about two months.  

Munoz said that limited transportation, along with limited healthy food options on campus, could make it difficult for students to have access to nutritious, affordable food.  

“I think of the new students and the limited resources they would have if it weren’t for the campus pantry,” Munoz said. “With the reduced hours of the Panther Shuttle, it’s hard getting to the grocery stores after or in between classes. Plus, it might not always be financially sustainable to keep buying groceries out of pocket.”  

Some Eastern students said they were glad to hear that the food pantry has served so many people this past year.  

Munoz said she has volunteered for the food pantry in the past, distributing food to students and stocking shelves. She said knowing that the food pantry has reached “that many people warms my heart.” 

“Seeing the relief of students when we hand them their bags of groceries/food is rewarding,” Munoz said. “I get to brag about how awesome our staff and faculty are for creating and promoting it.”  

Glanton said she wishes this resource was available sooner.  

“During this time of inflation and the pandemic, it lets me know that EIU cares for their students and their food security,” Glanton said. 

Mosley said she is glad more people are learning about the resources available through the food pantry.  

“It’s good to know that people who may be in the same situation that I’m in actually are aware of the resources that they have here on campus,” Mosley said.  

Glanton said that students should go to the food pantry because it provides more than just food.  

“This year, they’ve added a variety of options,” she said. “When it’s available, they have more than just food. If you’re in need of soap, feminine products or school supplies. Lastly, if you’re in need of volunteer hours or want to give back to the EIU community, you can volunteer at the food pantry.” 

Munoz said she wants fellow Eastern students to know that they “don’t need to be at a dead-end to take advantage of this resource.” 

“When the pantry first opened, I felt hesitant going because I had a meal plan,” Munoz said. “But students should know that it doesn’t disqualify them. Attend the campus pantry and take advantage of it! It’s better to be proactive than reactive when it comes to food insecurity.” 

Those interested in learning more about the EIU Campus Food Pantry can do so at https://www.eiu.edu/volunteer/campusfoodpantry.php. 

 

Kyara Morales-Rodriguez can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]