At SIUE food pantry, students and staff can get their fill

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Some SIUE students are helping each other so they’re not hungry. A new food pantry—the Cougar Cupboard—has opened at the campus’ university center for students and staff to use.

“…It’s a resource for our students and located in the Morris University Center right in the heart of campus on the second floor,” said Sarah Laux, associate director of the Kimmel Student Involvement Center.

Here, students are getting the protein and nutrients they need.

“If you’d seen the room before it was a complete beige empty meeting room. So we over the summer transformed the space; so we’re very fortunate,” said Stephanie Bargei, a graduate assistant volunteering at Cougar Cupboards.

The stocked shelves are filled with the essentials for a hungry college student, all items donated. The unique approach at the university is empowering students to help each other. In the eight weeks that Cougar Cupboard has been open, about 200 students have used the pantry.

“A survey from a graduate student at Northern Illinois University extrapolated the data for our SIUE students and we saw 30 percent identify as food insecure,” Laux said.

Students are given a list with the items they can take in their canvas bag.

“We have a system like a little shopping list they can work off,” Laux said. “As you can see here, we have some items color coded and labeled and depending on how many in their family they can take a different amount.”