NIU’s Huskie Food Pantry will move onto campus this September as it drops anchor on the south side of the Chick Evans Field House.
Formerly housed in the Grace Place Campus Ministry at the corner of Lucinda Avenue and Normal Road, the pantry opens Thursday, Sept. 8, in the field house.
Hours are 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. every Thursday except for holidays and university closures.
“We are open to all students who are experiencing food insecurity,” says Liz McKee, assistant director for the NIU Community Service and new supervisor of the pantry, which is now an official operation of the university. “Students just need to bring their NIU OneCards.”
Students who visit the pantry can choose what to take with them from a stock that includes cereal, shelf-stable milk, canned fruits and vegetables, pasta and sauce, fruit and grain bars, peanut butter and jelly, snacks and toiletry items.
Most visitors take only enough to get them through to the next week, McKee says. “Our students know more or less what they need,” she says. “They’re not taking more than that.”
Those with emergency needs in between Thursday evenings can learn online about additional assistance.
Between 70 and 100 students visit each week during the academic year, she says. That number drops to about 30 during the summer, when the pantry is open once a month. Many are non-traditional students.
Launched in 2014 by Kathy Zuidema, employer relations specialist in NIU Career Services, the Huskie Food Pantry tackles a difficult problem on college campuses: food insecurity.
A study of food insecurity among Illinois public university undergraduates, published in April, found that 35 percent of respondents from NIU, Eastern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University and Western Illinois University were considered food-insecure.
Working toward “an NIU student population not challenged more by their food needs than by their education needs,” the pantry is also providing students with career skills.
“Our goal is that I will oversee student interns who are predominantly responsible for running the pantry – finding volunteers, helping with food orders,” McKee says. “We really want to give that experiential learning to our students.”
Want to help?
- Volunteers are needed to receive, stock and shelf inventory; shop for food; assist clients; organize food drives; and much more. Sign up online!
- Host a collection drive: If your organization or place of work is interested in hosting a collection drive, call 815-753-1421 or email [email protected] for a list of preferred items and successful strategies to score donations for this worthy cause.
- Monetary donations to the Huskie Food Pantry can be made online through the NIU Foundation. (Type “Huskie Food Pantry” in the “Other” box.)
- Financial gifts also are taken in-person or by mail. (Make checks payable to NIU Foundation and write “To benefit Huskie Food Pantry” in the memo line.) To send by mail, use this address: NIU Foundation, c/o Huskie Food Pantry, DeKalb, IL 60115.
For more information, call 815-753-1421 or email [email protected].