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Pictured from left, are WIU Co-President Brittany Van Tine, and volunteers Tysen Evison, and Rebekah Fletcher.
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WIU Food Pantries Provide for Food Insecurity, Academic Preparation

February 3, 2021


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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL – After nearly three years of steady growth and expansion, the Western Illinois University Food Pantry is not only providing a resource for faculty, staff and students with food insecurity, but also academic and career preparation opportunities for those who volunteer their time.

The WIU Food Pantry opened its doors in March 2018. After recently outgrowing its initial location in the Hanson Field ticket booth, the pantry is now located in Horrabin Hall, room 10, and is open from noon-5 p.m. on Thursdays and from 10 a.m.-noon on Saturdays.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the pantry remains operational, but has taken steps to keep volunteers and patrons safe. Mask usage is required in the pantry, and only volunteers are allowed to handle food products. The facility is also sanitized regularly.

Two WIU students have taken over as co-presidents this semester, junior dietetics and nutrition major Brittany Van Tine, of Macomb, and sociology graduate student Davora Buchanan, of Chicago.

The food pantry has given students the opportunity for research and leadership skills, and to apply lessons from the classroom. Buchanan enjoys building relationships and interacting with other students. She said you never know when someone is experiencing food insecurity and that the pantry could help alleviate financial stress to students.

"Having access to the pantry assists students by being viable for those who cannot afford food, and have to worry about tuition, bills, or running out of their meal plan quickly," Buchanan said.

Van Tine said she grew up volunteering from a young age.

"It is in my heart to volunteer," She said.

The food pantry is overseen by Associate Professor of Kinesiology Emily Shupe and Alumni Program's Office Manager Carrie Lowderman.

Shupe decided to take action toward opening the pantry after students began learning she kept food and snacks in her office, and the number of those coming in began to grow.

"I cannot sit here and watch these children be hungry," Shupe said.

She added that the pantry fills an important need for students and is a way to show they care and want to help students be successful.

"There is nothing to be ashamed of," she said. "We all need a little help."

During the hours the pantry is closed, food is also distributed from tables outside Horrabin Hall room 10, including breakfast items and snacks for food on the go.

The pantry protects patrons' confidentiality, anonymity and right to privacy. All patron's information is strictly confidential. It is not used for any other purposes other than for WIU Food Pantry reporting data to the pantry's food bank partnerships.

The food pantry has an eager group of volunteers and is always looking for more. For more information about volunteering, contact Buchanan at d-buchanan2@wiu.edu or Van Tine at bn-vantine@wiu.edu.

WIU also has a food pantry on its Quad Cities campus, which is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. by appointment. It is overseen by Curtis M. Williams, vice president of Student Services on the WIU-QC campus. On average, the pantry assists two-three families per week and provides students, faculty and staff with access to basic food items from canned soups to ready-to-go meals. The pantry also provides toiletries, household supplies, school supplies and cookbooks for meal prep. Last year, they started offering pet food as well. This is all made possible through donations. During the spring and summer, they offer fresh vegetables that are grown in the QC campus garden.

Throughout the years, WIU School of Agriculture students have supported the WIU Food Pantry by creating fundraisers and holding food drives at events. The students helped kickoff the food pantry in 2018, at the University's Homecoming celebration by holding a food drive and donating 5,000 cans of food. The Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity at WIU recently donated $1,000 to the pantry. The fundraiser was held at its annual 'Smokin' Hog' event.

The pantry has a variety of partnerships to make successful distributions to patrons. The pantry partners with Riverbend Food Bank in the Quad Cities, which offers bulk food at greatly reduced prices. They receive donations and grants from River Bank; Midwest Food Bank in Peoria, IL; and DOT Foods Inc. in Mt. Sterling, IL. The Salvation Army has also donated thousands of pounds of food to support the pantry. Consistent donations are also received from the public through the WIU Foundation and Development Office.

For more information about making monetary donations to the pantry, contact the WIU Foundation and Development Office at (309) 298-1861 or email WIUFoundation@wiu.edu.

To view a list of foods available at the Macomb campus site, visit the food pantry website at wiu-food-pantry-macomb.site123.me.

Appointments to visit the pantry during non-scheduled hours can be made through Google forms. Social distancing practices and facial coverings are required. To schedule an appointment visit forms.gle/jFbEQ7J1nUssup7J6.

For more information regarding the pantry, contact Shupe at ER-Shupe@wiu.edu or Lowderman at CA-Lowderman@wiu.edu.

Posted By: Lissette Cavazos (wiunews@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations