Eastern Food & Hygiene Pantry Expands To Fight Food Insecurity

Q&A with Tomi Alarpe ‘24, double major in Psychology and Sociology; Student Government Association President.

Food PantryJames 2:15-16 says: “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”

Throughout Scripture, we are called to care for others in a way that we would want to be cared for ourselves. In response to this mandate, the Student Government Association (SGA) lives out the Christian mission to provide for others through the creation and upkeep of food and hygiene pantries across campus. We recently discussed the pantry, the grants it has received, and the future plans with SGA President Tomi Alarpe ’24.

Can you tell us about how the pantry came to be?

The pantry was started in 2021 by my predecessor Xeyah Martin ’22. He designed the pantries to address food insecurities that students faced. Currently, there are four pantries on campus: in Doane, Kea-Guffin, Walton, and Gough. With the recent grant we received, we plan to expand to more residence halls such as Eagle and Sparrowk!

What kind of food and hygiene items are in the pantry?

In our current pantries, students can find non-perishable foods, snacks, microwaveable foods, and more. Concerning hygiene, students can find items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, and more. With the addition of the grant, we will look to add even more of a variety of items.

What is the process for students who need something from the pantry?

Students are able to access the pantries on their own and grab what they need. We recommend to students that they should always only grab what they need, so we can serve as many students as possible. If students are in need of items that may not currently be provided in the pantries, they are asked to email the Student Government Association to let us know of the items that they feel would benefit the Eastern community.

Who restocks the pantry and how often?

The Student Government Association members are responsible for restocking the pantry. Members check the pantries daily and abide by a restocking schedule. The schedule is about twice a month during the academic year, but closer to breaks, we will restock for the break and the following week after the break. With the addition of the grant, we will look to supplement the pantry more adequately throughout the summer months as well.

What are outside grants used for? Is there anywhere else that funding comes from?

The money from outside grants is primarily used for the upkeep of supplying pantries, and for expansion into additional residence halls. Grants assist us in our goal of addressing food insecurities on campus and allow us to serve more students who experience food insecurity or might not be able to afford hygiene products on a regular basis. Other than grants, the funding from the pantries primarily comes from SGA, along with faculty donations and partnership with a local church.

How has access to the pantry impacted students?

We’ve received great feedback from students ever since the inception of the pantries. Students can now have access to food and hygiene items for free instead of going out to buy them themselves or using a meal swipe elsewhere. We aim to continue doing everything we can to address food insecurities across campus and give students access to products they need.

What future plans do you envision for the pantry?

We have plans to expand the pantry to more residence halls, as well as ensure they host a variety of products for both on-campus students and commuters as well. We don’t want any student to ever go hungry or go without basic needs like soap, toothpaste, or other hygiene products. With the aid of the grant and funding from SGA, we plan to continue the Christian mission of making sure everyone’s basic needs are met.

If you have any questions about the SGA Food Pantry, please contact sga@eastern.edu.