That Time I…volunteered at a food pantry


Zulfiqar Ahmed | Northern Star

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

By Parker Otto

This past week, I volunteered at my local food pantry at the Salt Creek Resource Center, 701 E Clinton Ave., in my hometown of Farmer City. I boxed food with other volunteers, some of them relatives, and I found myself moved by the whole experience. So many people that I’ve grown up with took the time to give back to their community. With so many Americans facing a shortage of food, it’s important that we give back and volunteer, not just during the holidays, but into the next year.

More than 38 million people in the United States deal with food insecurity, according to Feeding America, an organization dedicated to fighting hunger. It goes without saying that no American should have to choose between paying the bills and feeding themselves and their families. 

To combat this hunger, food banks and pantries help people by supplying food. A food pantry is a smaller organization that deals with specific communities often containing non-perishable food. A food bank is a large location, such as a warehouse, with millions of pounds of food that are distributed to local pantries, mainly foods with a shorter shelf life such as fresh produce, bread and milk. 

There are over 200 banks and 60,000 pantries that operate within Feeding America, according to their website. Very few of them can exist without the hard work of volunteers. During this pandemic, we all lost something: a family member, friends, jobs, opportunities, hope. But we still have a chance to give back and to help those who continue to suffer. 

Nearly every community has a food pantry that you can volunteer at. Within DeKalb-Sycamore, there are nine food pantries, according to the DeKalb County Health Department. One of them is the Huskie Food Pantry which serves NIU students with food insecurity. 

As someone who has volunteered there in the past, this is an organization that is worthy of aid. If you are a student, volunteering there once a month can mean the world to them and to the people who are served by the Huskie Food Pantry. To volunteer, visit their website

Not everyone has the time to spend a few hours volunteering. But you can still donate to your local food pantries, to a food bank or to Feeding America. 

With 2022 quickly approaching, let’s work to help as many people as possible find the help they require.