The Wesley Evening Food Pantry serves students in need

Scott Barnes

Staff Writer

Photo by Scott Wells/Prospectus News

Photo by Scott Wells/Prospectus News

For college students, perhaps one of the most valuable life lessons learned while attending school is that of frugality. A lesson not covered in the college curriculum, but learned nonetheless. Even with the help of financial aid, scholarships, and working a part time job, a lot of students struggle to make ends meet financially. Fortunately, there are organizations such as the Wesley Evening Food Pantry that provide additional assistant for students that need it.

Parkland student Kourtney Catchings is currently enrolled in the Highway Construction Career Training Program, and feels that the food pantry is a good thing to have on campus.

“I think every food pantry is a good thing because there’s a lot of families out here that can’t afford things,” Catchings said. “It helps a lot of people. You don’t get everything that you want but the things that they do give you are necessities that you need for your body to keep going and be healthy.”

The food pantry takes place on the second Wednesday of each month, and also on occasional Saturdays. The pantry is held in the old S Building located on the south side of campus near the Bradley entrance from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Without volunteers from the community it would be impossible to offer this service to students at Parkland College. One of the volunteers, Ed Friedl, has been lending a helping hand for many years now, and he enjoys taking part in this “altruistic experience,” as he put it.

“I’ve been a part of the Wesley Pantry for about four or five years,” Friedl said. “I enjoy it. The volunteers are always pleasant, and the Wesley Pantries have always worked really hard at being friendly. There is very little pressure on anybody.”

The Wesley Food Pantry is an organization put together by the Wesley United Methodist Church in Urbana. In addition to the pantry here at Parkland, there is another pantry that takes place in the Wesley Student Center located at the intersection of Green and Goodwin in Urbana, which takes place the third Thursday of every month from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The pantry is unique because it lets people pick out their own food, and there are many items to choose from including canned vegetables as well as granola bars and jars of peanut butter. Clients are allowed to fill up two grocery bags with whatever they can fit, and they are allowed to remove food from the packaging in order to ensure that they utilize the full capacity of the plastic bags. For example, bags of cereal can be removed from the excessive cardboard box, which leaves more room in the bag for other items.

The Wesley Food Pantry gets most of the food it provides from the Eastern Illinois Food Bank located in Urbana. Wesley purchases the food at a discounted price and then distributes it to those in need within the community. According to Volunteer Coordinator Brittany Coleman, the pantry serves anywhere from 50 to 200 people every month.

Coleman became involved with Wesley while attending the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, and she has been a part of the pantry here at Parkland since it started last December. She is responsible for recruiting volunteers as well as training them. She also hosts an orientation for new volunteers, which takes place in the S Building on the second Tuesday of every month. In addition to those tasks, she is also on site every month lending a hand to the clients that come through the doors.

“I think it’s important to realize that these are people we interact with every day,” Coleman said. “These are our classmates and these are our neighbors. These are everyday people that are struggling, for whatever reason, and they could be just like you and I.”

Students having a difficult time making ends meet can visit the Wesley Food Pantry on the second Wednesday of every month. Students interested in volunteering at the Wesley Food Pantry should visit their website at www.wesleypantry.org.