Counseling and Testing Center opens food pantry

Kayla Swanson

The Counseling and Testing Center is looking to not only provide psychological help to students, faculty and staff, but physical help as well.

Director Brian Van Brunt and Centertown alumna Sarah Arnold began conversations last year about ways they could help the WKU community beyond talking with them. 

“One of the challenges in the psychological field is we do a lot of face-to-face work, but there’s also a lot of need for social work, in terms of, like, helping people outside of just talking to them,” Van Brunt said. “The talking helps, but we were running into students who were having more financial concerns.”

Van Brunt said noticing students with needs outside of therapy motivated the food pantry on campus.

Arnold runs “Food Abides,” which is open Mondays and Tuesdays from 4-6 p.m. in Potter Hall Room 409 to all WKU students, staff and faculty.

“The Counseling and Testing Center as well as other organizations on campus have tried over the years to help students in need, but we felt as though it was time to open a food pantry,” Arnold said in an email. 

The food pantry has received donations from Greek organizations, faculty and staff and $1,500 from the Parents Council, VanBrunt said. 

In the past two months, Van Brunt said 400 to 500 items have been collected.

Participants will fill out a form stating their needs and foods they like and dislike and then fill a bag of food with enough for three meals a day for five days. Students with meal plans aren’t automatically disqualified, Arnold said.

Van Brunt said the food bank is to be used for short-term and emergency needs, and she wants people to use it no more than six times, but the bank will be flexible.

“We want students to use it, but we also don’t want to have students who have access to other means to take advantage,” he said. “If there’s a larger need, our hope would be that they would be able to connect to some community resources. There’s several food pantries in town, several organizations that offer extended help.” 

The food pantry is currently run out of a closet in the center, but Arnold said she hopes a larger space can be found so more food can be stored, including fresh vegetables and other perishable goods. 

“There are so many things that can be done with this food pantry to benefit the campus community, and I hope to see it continue to grow over the months and years,” she said.

Louisville sophomore Jamie Daniels attended the food pantry after seeing a picture of it on the photo sharing site Instagram. 

“I don’t have a meal plan, and I’m currently unemployed, so I knew I could get something,” Daniels said. 

Daniels said she hopes the food pantry will help others focus more on school and less on working to get money for food. 

“It shows WKU cares,” she said.