Huskie Food Pantry makes multiple changes for fall semester

Students+walk+through+the+pantry+on+Thursday%2C+Sept.+30th%2C+2021.

Zulfiqar Ahmed | Northern Star

Students walk through the pantry on Thursday, Sept. 30th, 2021.

By Yari Tapia, News Reporter

DeKALB — The Huskie Food Pantry will now be opened an additional day of the week. The pantry will also be available to both students with and without a meal plan. 

Jeanne Baxter, assistant director of civic and service learning, oversees the pantry and is in charge of prepping the food on Tuesday, so it can be ready for Wednesday and Thursday. 

“I place the orders, I do food pickups from Walmart and Meijer and just oversee volunteer recruitment,” Baxter said. 

When classes were mostly online in the 2020-2021 school year, the pantry was only open on Thursdays from 5-7 p.m. Now, the pantry is also open on Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

“They limited (to) the number of volunteers that could help out and basically kind of went down to the core leadership group, which at the time was about five students that volunteered in the spring,” Baxter said. “We opened it up to a few more volunteers plus the core group, and then now this fall we’re opening it even wider.”

Baxter helped create the student leadership team when she started her position in November 2020. Since the pantry consists of volunteers who can volunteer as little or as often as they please, the student leadership team is a consistent base of people who volunteer at the pantry.

“Now that I’m on the leadership team I’ve been showing up to the Wednesday ‘stock the pantry’ nights and then I’ve also been showing up on Thursday nights for pantry night,” said Tashara Thomas, senior nutrition, dietetics and wellness major. “Within that, we are actually trying to focus on gaining more awareness to the food pantry, so one of my responsibilities, I guess, is to see if I can raise engagement with people on campus, through social media and stuff like that.”

The pantry will also now be open to students with and without a meal plan. Baxter is excited that the pantry can now reach more students who need the help.

“This year we’re piloting being open to all students, not just commuter students or off-campus  students,” Baxter said. 

Baxter said the pantry is also implementing more nutrient-dense foods, so students can have a more balanced diet.

“I’m able to like touch fresh vegetables,” said Paddy McKermitt, senior human resource management major. “I didn’t do that much the first time volunteering, but there’s more fresh food coming in.”

The pantry currently receives its food from food drives, Walmart, Meijer, the Northern Illinois Food Bank and donations from alumni.

Baxter said she appreciates faculty and staff who encourage students to volunteer.

“I would like to express, be able to express, gratitude towards the faculty who include that surface element in their classes,” Baxter said.