Campus food pantries feed hungry students

For students going hungry, it can be a challenge to focus on anything other than food. But college food pantries in the Local 6 area are now working to help.

Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg wants to help its students stay full and focused through a new food pantry. It’s something students say is needed on campus.

Art student Christina Jackson says being able to get a little help from Freddie’s Food Pantry on campus really helps.

"I couldn’t even afford to go to SIC without a scholarship or FAFSA or anything. So, when they said they were going to do the food pantry, I thought ‘This is going to be really helpful,’" Jackson said.

Every student will leave the pantry with two bags of food, including fruits, vegetables and other items, so they can keep themselves full and focused in school.

"Chicken stuffing mix? Mmmm, that’s my favorite. Oh, that’s help out, and it’s all my favorite stuff!" Jackson said.

Student and food pantry volunteer Tiana Briddick says she and her fellow students are on tight budgets. She says some days are all about macaroni and cheese or instant mashed potatoes, and other days money just isn’t there to buy food.

"Students, you know, we’re paying for tuition and books and things like that. I figured it would be a pretty big problem," Briddick said. It’s why she’s volunteering, trying to help feed as many students as she can.

"It’s really hard to get enough food at home, and I know a lot of other families who have trouble as well," Jackson said. She says in a family of five, the food budget can be strained. But, she hopes the help from the school food pantry can make a difference.

Food pantries are popping up at other colleges in the Local 6 area, too.

Southern Illinois University in Carbondale opened up its Saluki Food Pantry this semester, and in less than two months, it has served more than 300 students and families.

Pantry Coordinator Sara Sauerhage says a survey of state universities around Illinois found nearly one-third of students SIU are food insecure, which is higher than the average. She says they’re feeling that first hand, because demand from students is much higher than they expected.

“We’re finding that everybody seems to be struggling. They’re able to pay their tuition and they’re able to get some of their other fees they have to pay paid but then it seems like food is the last thing, it’s put on the back burner," said Sara Sauerhage, the coordinator at Saluki Food Pantry.

Saluki Food Pantry is open from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays. It’s in the basement of the student center on the SIU campus. You need to be a student and have your student ID card with you to pick up food. For more information, click here or email your questions to foodpantry@siu.edu

Organizers say they are always accepting monetary and food donations. In particular, canned chicken, peanut butter and spaghetti sauce are always in demand.

Freddie’s Food Pantry opened Oct. 18 and is open to food insecure students for now. It will be made available to the general student population as donations increase. It is accepting food donations at the library and registration desks on SIC campus or monetary donations through its website. To visit the website, click here

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