Wesley Food Pantry serves students, community

Bill Kirby

Staff Writer

The Wesley Food Pantry aims to provide an additional source of food for Parkland students and the greater community.

The pantry distributes four times per month at its Parkland location and once a month at its U of I campus location. The goal of the Wesley Food Pantry is to fight hunger and food

insecurity.

The Parkland location was established in 2013 and originally opened for students and their families after teachers and administrators were noticing that students’ needs weren’t being met.

Photo by Zonghui Li | The Prospectus Operations Manager Dawn Longfellow (right), Parkland volunteer Del Jacobs (middle), and Director Katie Thomas (left) work at the Wesley Food Pantry on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015.

Photo by Zonghui Li | The Prospectus
Operations Manager Dawn Longfellow (right), Parkland volunteer Del Jacobs (middle), and Director Katie Thomas (left) work at the Wesley Food Pantry on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015.

Many Parkland students already have children and families to support while going through school. The Wesley Food Pantries aimed to alleviate some of the stress put on students so they would have a better chance to succeed.

Parkland’s location has since expanded and now receives government USDA commodities. Part of the requirement for receiving government commodities is that the location be open to the public and that they distribute four times a month.

According to a Feeding America study, 34 percent of Americans have to make a choice between paying for food and paying for other expenses, like gas for the car, paying for housing and paying for medical expenses.

When food stamps and pay checks are running low the pantry aims to relieve families and give them an extra push to make it through the month, without having to decide between food and other basic needs.

They make new clients feel welcome in a non-threatening environment. New clients will fill out a basic sheet that verifies that a family or person is within income guidelines to qualify.

The income guidelines are about two times the federal poverty limit. It is also a trust policy as they won’t ask for proof of employment. The grants the food pantry receives require an ID to be shown. It’s a head count and a way to keep track of new clients.

After registering, clients will receive a set number of bags based on their household size and a shopping cart.

Food offered comes from the balanced food groups. Clients will always find cereal, grains and oatmeal. Often times fresh produce and frozen meats will be offered. If the pantry can’t come

Photo by Zonghui Li | The Prospectus The Wesley Food Pantry offers food to the community at two locations, on Green and Goodwin in Urbana, and at Parkland’s location in the S Wing.

Photo by Zonghui Li | The Prospectus
The Wesley Food Pantry offers food to the community at two locations, on Green and Goodwin in Urbana, and at Parkland’s location in the S Wing.

across frozen meat, other sources of protein will be offered. Clients will always find canned vegetables and fruit. Sometimes they even offer fun items like cookies.

What sets the Wesley Food Pantry apart from other food pantries is client choice. Clients know what their families need and the choice is up to the clients as far as what they think will help their families get through the month. Some people take a small amount of food, and carry it to class. Others get a weeks’ worth of groceries to help them make it through the month. They make it as much like going to the grocery store as possible.

The main avenue for getting the word out about the Parkland location has been word of mouth. In their first months of being open they weren’t sure whether or not they would make it.

The location opened with only a handful of people coming in. Now it’s a strong community resource that reaches Parkland students, their families and the greater community.