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EWU Food Pantry responds to food insecurity

EWU Food Pantry, Tawanka Hall, Cheney

By Anna Crigger

William Tadlock, Eastern Washington University (EWU) graduate student, uses the EWU Food Pantry Program regularly.

He appreciates the charitable contributions made and recognizes that this program finds "what people need the most and meets those needs."

As a child, William and his family could count on their church community to meet their needs. Now, he can count on the EWU community and the Newman Center to assist him.

The EWU Food Pantry provides access to nutritious food for members of the EWU campus so that community members help each other be successful.

"Building a healthier community is the priority," said Lindsey McEwen, EWU Food Pantry Program basic needs coordinator, who works with the EWU and Cheney communities to keep food supplied.

"What's the purpose of us living together as a community if we don't help each other succeed and become better people?" Lindsey asked.

"If we understand struggles people face, maybe we can understand them," she said. "Empathy and sympathy are crucial to the success of efforts in a community."

Because the pantry was closed last year as COVID spread, the program has been "in a process of reopening, reintroducing ourselves to everyone and re-engaging the community to let people know we are open," she said.

Lindsey, a graduate student working on master's degrees in social work and public administration, was excited to work at the Food Pantry Program because of her passion about addressing food insecurity.

"When I needed a practicum for my degree, it seemed natural to expand what I was already doing," said Lindsey.

As part of her practicum with the food pantry, she is responsible for budgeting and administrative work, planning workshops and working with volunteers and employees.

Valuing justice influences her involvement, too.

As a child, Lindsey moved often because her father was in the Army. Wherever she lived, she spoke of justice when she noticed that things were "not fair."

It has always been important to her that people receive equal treatment.

"We all have opportunities," she said. "Everyone has the capacity to succeed. They just may not realize it."

Lindsey said that while everyone can succeed, they "may need a nudge" to actually succeed.

She is planning workshops with the food pantry to help give people a nudge to success. The workshops will educate the community on self-care and food stamp registration.

Lindsey said the EWU Food Pantry Program recently won a grant from Swipe Out Hunger.

"We are using it to buy cheese, milk and perishable items that we don't typically receive from food rescue," she said.

Donations can be dropped off at the central food pantry in Tawanka 129E, or the counseling and wellness office in URC room 201. 

The most needed donations are hearty soups, canned tuna, grains, cooking oils, breakfast foods, spices, condiments, snacks and hygiene products.

The program works with community partners and direct sponsors including Feed Cheney, Yokes, Grocery Outlet, Dairy Farmers, CHAS Health, Second Harvest, EWU Dining and Catering Services and Associated Students of Eastern Washington University.

They contribute to a central food pantry and seven food cabinets on EWU's Cheney campus and in the Catalyst building in Spokane. In Tawanka Hall in Cheney, the central food pantry is open from 1 to 4 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Lindsey encourages those using the service to bring reusable bags.

The food cabinets are available to the EWU community during normal hours when the buildings are open.

Each cabinet is sponsored by an EWU club or organization. The club members are responsible for restocking their assigned cabinet each week.

Students, faculty, clubs and organizations contribute to the needs of the EWU community, building reliability.

There is no maximum number of times a guest can visit the central food pantry or cabinets.

Guests are encouraged to take as much food as they will use, keeping in mind that other guests need to be served too, Lindsey said.

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Copyright@ The Fig Tree, April 2022