Food Pantry open for students’ needs

By Betsy Mathew

Faculty members have opened the Huskies Student Food Pantry for students who are having trouble affording food.

The Huskies Student Food Pantry is a volunteer-run pilot program that assists students with food emergencies. It has only been open a week and already more than a dozen students have been helped.

Kathy Zuidema, Career Services staff member, said she noticed students were struggling to make ends meet and afford meals and 13 out of 100 students have food insecurity.

Zuidema, said she doesn’t think any student should have to worry about how to get his or her next meal. In response, Zuidema and co-organizer Bill Montgomery, Career Services business manager, started the Food Pantry.

“The more students I talked to the more I realized there was a need for a pantry,” Zuidema said.

Montgomery said the pantry was started as a business without the intent of selling anything, according to a news release.

“It has been so gratifying to see momentum build across campus and in the community,” Montgomery said, according to a news release. “Food drives have broken out all across NIU.”

Senior sociology major Sarah Van Auken said the pantry would give students more time to focus on school rather than worrying about their next meal.

“The cost of going to college is so high that it’s nice to have help with other needs such as food,” Van Auken said.

All students are welcome to use the pantry’s services and are not required to show proof of need. They will only need to show their OneCards to be given a bag to fill with whatever they choose.

“I want students to feel positive about it and not ashamed because I’ve been there in my life,” Zuidema said. “I want to see them get their degree and the job that they always wanted.”

The Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva has supplied food for the pantry while Amy Fallon, a minister of Grace Place Ministries, 410 Normal Road, has given the space needed to house the pantry.

The Huskies Student Food Pantry has also teamed up with Career Services to offer internships as well as part-time jobs.

“People just believe that it’s the right thing to do and the right thing for students. Every little bit helps,” Zuidema said. “I heard a student say that at least someone is thinking of the students for a change.”