Office of Sustainability receives grant to support food pantry and garden

WKU Office of Sustainability Food Pantry

Gabrielle Bunton

Members of the WKU community who might be facing food insecurity will see a little extra help from the WKU Office of Sustainability after they received a $30,000 grant this week to help with increased need of services due to COVID-19.

The office received the grant from Florida-based Jessie Ball duPont Fund to support the food pantry, replenish the community gardens, and help pay student workers.

Part of the money will be used to help restock the food pantry.“If we run low on food supplies, we will be able to replenish items in the pantry so that we make sure we keep our shelves fully stocked as much as possible for people,” said Associate Professor of Environmental Geoscience and Director of Sustainability Leslie North.

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund is located in Jacksonville, Florida. Their mission is to serve the communities that Jessie Ball duPont knew and loved. They envision a world in which every member of those communities feels they belong, according to their website. The Foundation issues grants to organizations to help support them.

The department plans to replant  two campus community gardens behind the pantry. North said they want to get those up and running to supply fresh fruits and vegetables to those who come to the pantry.

Finally, part of the grant will be used to help pay student workers. North said that they have been keeping the pantry open primarily by appointment only because they are short staffed. “As we anticipate that we get more visitors we are going to need more people to help keep it open,” said North.

When the pandemic hit in March, they decided to open their doors to anyone that needed it including students, faculty, staff and everyone in the community. Based on the pantry survey the food pantry has received 320 visitors and served a total of 624 individuals since Mar 20, according to WKU Philanthropy.

To receive items from the pantry, set up an appointment and say that you are in need of food resources. They suggest you bring your own bags or they will provide them. They also supply gloves to keep everything safe.

The food pantry is open to everyone, everyday to come through and get what they need. North said the biggest thing is that many students are unaware of the service. Instead of running out of meal plans or facing financial struggles that prohibits them from getting groceries, they can come to them. 

“You are welcomed to take whatever you might need at that moment. We have things from breakfast foods to canned soups, vegetables, pastas and just things that people would need to easily prepare a meal or to be able to get through hard times,” said North.