Thanks to refrigeration and freezer units loaned by EWU Dining Services, the campus food pantry can now offer students in need more than canned vegetables and boxed mac and cheese. A new location boasts fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, dairy products, eggs and meat.
The Office of Community Engagement and Americorps Vista have been busy over the fall quarter preparing the new Central Food Pantry location at 129E Tawanka Hall. With weekly deliveries from Second Harvest and the Dairy Farmers of Washington, the shelves are now filled with a wide assortment of canned and boxed foods; rice, beans and pasta; and fresh potatoes, onions and breads. The fridge and freezer units are packed with produce such as apples and carrots; drinks like juice and tea; and dairy items and frozen meals.
“We know that 30 percent of students here are food insecure and we are here to help,” says Community Food Security Coordinator and Americorps Vista Volunteer Libby Vigil. “We encourage students to come here and know that they are not alone.”
Food pantry organizers are currently in the process of recruiting student volunteers to help run the Central Food Pantry during the winter quarter and beyond. This is in addition to the student clubs and organizations that already take part in the “adopt a cabinet” program.
“What that means is that they’re responsible for stocking the cabinet each week,” says Vigil. “They come and get the key from our office, then come to the central location, pick up what they need in their pantry, and deliver it there.”
There are seven previously established food-pantry cabinets in buildings across the Cheney campus. The cabinet locations will continue to offer non-perishable foods and hygiene products. They can be accessed any time the buildings are open. The Central Food Pantry, however, is only open when volunteers are working due to the value of the infrastructure and products inside. Hours will vary quarter-to-quarter and will be posted on the Office of Community Engagement website and Instagram page.
Students utilizing the Central Food Pantry will be asked to fill out brief paperwork, which will help organizers track the level of food insecurity at EWU and ensure that the pantries stay stocked. An Eastern email address will also be required so volunteers can contact users in case of a food recall.
No one will be turned away from the pantry. Vigil says the goal is to serve the needs of students who are struggling to afford food.
“The whole idea is to get people to graduate with their degree and stay in school,” she says. “The hope is that people will be able to feed themselves and maybe it will help ease their financial burden, maybe then they can pay for gas or housing.”
If you are a student who would like to volunteer in the Central Food Pantry, contact Libby Vigil at CEAmericorps@ewu.edu or 509.359.4006. If you would like to donate food, Vigil asks that you take it directly to a volunteer at the central location at 129E Tawanka Hall, or to the Office of Community Engagement located at 115 Showalter Hall. All donations must be inspected and logged before they are put on the shelves in the central pantry or the cabinet locations.
The EWU food pantries are made possible by campus donations and food drives, as well as generous partnerships with Second Harvest, the Dairy Farmers of Washington and CHAS Health.