NEIU Student Pantry offers food donations amid coronavirus pandemic

April 18, 2020

Food shortages in grocery stores across Chicago are leaving members of the NEIU community without provisions. Northeastern Illinois University aims to assist students in need during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic through the university’s grab and go food pantry, where students can pick up food items donated by the larger NEIU community.

Assistant Dean of Students Christopher Maxwell, who operates the student pantry along with other NEIU staff members, spoke with The Independent about the pantry’s donation model.

During the school year, students normally leave food items they wish to donate at any of the bins available across the NEIU campus. The donation bins are located at the Academic & Community Partnerships, the Advising Center, the Angelina Pedroso Center, the Learning Support Center, Student Disability Services and the Student Leadership Development Office.

Maxwell states that the alumni center hosts food drives throughout the academic school year, where donations can be dropped off in a convenient, timely manner. However, because of the limitations imposed by mandated social distancing measures, NEIU recently centralized its food drive efforts to one location.

“Recently, a bin was placed in the police station and that is currently where students can drop off any items they wish to donate,” said Maxwell. “For those who feel uncomfortable about going outside but still want to donate, they can go on NEIU’s alumni website and donate money.”

Maxwell added that the emergency fund on the alumni website is open to all students during school closures.

The grab and go takes place every Monday and Thursday between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
During normal operations, students visit the food pantry located at E-050 (underneath the bookstore) before selecting desired items.

For the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, students are asked to fill out the order form available on NEIU’s student pantry website. The form is renewed every Tuesday.

After completing the required paperwork, representatives direct students upstairs, where they enter the side doors located at Parking Lot F on the day of their designated pick up. Once there, students are provided prepackaged items ordered by Maxwell or other staff members of the food pantry.

However, while stay at home orders are still in effect, representatives of NEIU’s student pantry deliver orders to the lobby of the Nest for residents of NEIU’s on-campus dormitory or in Parking Lot F for commuter students.

“While this is really meant to help students, we have helped and offer help to staff and other people as well and we will not turn away anyone that comes for help,” said Maxwell.

Items eligible for donation include canned fruits and vegetables, peanut butter, rice and other essential items such as toiletries and toilet paper. A complete list of items that can be donated can be found under “donations” on NEIU’s food pantry website.

NEIU student pantry is always looking for volunteers under regular operating conditions. Students and staff can sign up for any slot they want. This link can be found here.

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