The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News


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Eastern’s food pantry use on the rise

Crystal Brown, the associate director for the office of leadership and engagement, talks about the campus food pantry and how it is available to students with a Panther card with a variety of different foods available to get for free. (Immanuel Johnson)

Eastern’s food pantry saw usage more than double from 2022, the associate director for the office of leadership and engagement said.  

Crystal Brown, the associate director for the office of leadership and engagement, oversees Eastern’s campus food pantry and, according to her, the usage has increased significantly since its opening.  

“The first year we opened, October of [2021] to May of [2022], we had 957 total student visits, and like 544 unique individuals that used the pantry,” Brown said. “Last academic year, August of [2022] to May of [2023], we had 2,688 total student visits and like 850 unique individuals. It drastically went up.”  

Out of the total visits, Brown said a lot of those are repeated visits. The pantry is on pace to double the number of visits for the year.  

Brown said there are a combination of reasons why more people have been visiting the pantry.  

“Now that we’ve been here for two years, more students are learning about the pantry. More students are feeling comfortable coming,” Brown said. “You don’t feel that stigma as much.”  

Brown also said international students have used the pantry more than others, which helps the pantry know what type of items to provide for the university.  

During the fall 2023 semester, Brown said just over 50% of pantry visits were from international students  

Yaswanth Reddy, a freshman computer science major, utilizes the pantry to save money and believes more students should know about it.  

Pavano Kosher, a computer technology major, also utilizes the pantry. He said he goes to get some of the basic and essential foods he needs.   

Hemanth Naga, a senior majoring in computer technology, gets some of his meals from the food pantry, going there to get healthier items.  

“I’ve been here for one year, and it was very helpful to me, like the fruits, the eggs and even the milk,” Naga said.  

The pantry has been working to include more foods eaten within other students’ cultures. However, obtaining these foods has been an issue for the pantry due to Charleston’s smaller community, Brown said.  

“Something that I am working on this semester is trying to figure out four, fix [or] six different stable items that we can maybe try to find, maybe like up in Champaign or order online, so that we can provide a little more variety in the cultural foods moving forward,” she said.  

Students also use the pantry because it is cheaper than going out to eat.  

Students and employees of Eastern can use the pantry two times per month at no cost. All they need to do is bring their Panther card.  

Food insecurity is a common issue on college campuses. According to Brown, 40% of college students throughout the country experience food insecurity at some point.  

Brown described food insecurity as someone not knowing where their next meal is coming from.  

When students are hungry in the classroom, their attention is taken away from what they are supposed to be learning, and they are not retaining information.  

The EIU campus food pantry is located in the basement of McAfee Gym in room 1347.  

The pantry has an assortment of items to choose from including dry staple goods, canned foods, cold foods and beverages.  

They also offer hygiene products. The range of items in hygiene products is small but is expected to increase in the spring.  

The pantry receives food items from donations and from food drives.  

There are also two other food pantries in Charleston. “We have a very close partnership,” Brown said.  

Eastern’s pantry has partnered with the Charleston pantry. Every Thursday night, year-round, Eastern staff members, students and volunteers run the Charleston pantry.  

Brown said that her goal for the pantry is for everyone on Eastern’s campus to know about it.  

Brown also said that the pantry is going to have a small expansion during the semester.  

“We were fortunate enough to be a part of that emergency fund grant that the university got for this spring semester,” Brown said. “So, we will have a little more food in here than what you’ve seen in the past. [It] might not be forever, but you know for this semester.”  

Also, due to the grant, the pantry will be able to offer students hygiene products including toothpaste, toilet paper, body wash and diapers for young children.  


Cam’ron Hardy can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]. 

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About the Contributors
Cam'ron Hardy
Cam'ron Hardy, News Editor
Cam'ron is a junior journalism major. He previously served news editor and campus editor at The News. 
Immanuel Johnson
Immanuel Johnson, Photographer
Immanuel Johnson is a senior digital media technology major and can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].