Food pantry, meal plan changes offered to fight food insecurity at WIU

By Marcos Broch-Monfort and Brian Lowe, NEWS3 Guest Reporters

Macomb, Illinois (NEWS3) — While most of the students are back congregating with friends and eating in the dining halls, others are struggling to obtain food. The Food Pantry, a student-run organization located in Horrabin Hall at Western Illinois University, helps students in need.

One international student who prefers to remain anonymous explained the issues they had when they arrived in Macomb.

“I initially had a struggle with cash, so the Food Pantry was a good source of getting food to eat,” the anonymous international WIU student said. “It has been very helpful, to be honest.”

Some students believe that the service should be promoted more to further help students dealing with food insecurity.

“A lot of people don’t know about this, I bet if they did, it would be really helpful,” another anonymous international WIU student.

“I still have a lot of people who don’t know what the food pantry is,” Britney Van Tine, president of the Food Pantry organization, said. “When people come to the pantry it’s a big deal for them, it is embarrassing for some individuals because they don’t want to admit that they need help. It needs to be more normalized, they need to feel comfortable coming here.”

Strict procedures are followed to guarantee the security and privacy of the patrons, assures Van Tine.

In addition to the Food Pantry, other efforts are being made on campus to combat food insecurity. In 2020, the value of the meal plan was increased, when there was a reduction of the price by 60% in the dining halls. However, this discount is only applied to those who have a meal plan and in these locations.

“We have reduced all the prices in the dining halls by 60%, so we are trying to drive students through eating in the dining halls because it is a better value than the retails like Qdoba and Chick-fil-A”, John Biernbaum, Associate Vice President for Students Services, said.

Biernbaum said that it is more difficult to run out the meal plan with these changes, and in case someone wants to add more money to it, will obtain more value, as adding $100 would translate in being able to spend about $160 in the dining halls.

The Food Pantry is open every Thursday from noon to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m to noon in Horrabin Hall.

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