Pantry program serves college students in-need

Published 09/27 2013 04:36PM

Updated 09/27 2013 04:43PM

Update: 10:13 pm, 9/25/13, Wednesday
CHAMPAIGN -- UI and Parkland students are getting a break thanks to a new food pantry. Newman Shares is open to students who can't afford some of life's necessities.

The St. John's Catholic Newman Center started the pantry. It's designed to help college students whose pockets are stretched too thin and may have a hard time supporting themselves.

Only students from Parkland and UI will be served at Newman Shares. It will be open every second and fourth Wednesdays of the month.
Original: 5:04, 9/20/13, Friday
CHAMPAIGN -- Some people without food stamps turn to food pantries for help, but have you ever heard of one specifically for college students? WCIA-3's Megan Brilley has more about how the UI is breaking the mold.

It's the first of its kind in the state. There are only a handful of student food pantries in the country. A few people looked at the university and thought its population was overlooked and took action.

"Well, they're going to the University of Illinois, they can afford the tuition, so they can afford to feed themselves."

It's a mindset Sister Maryann Schaefer says one too many people in our society have.

"That's not really the story when it comes down to it."

Schaefer works at the St. John's Newman Center alongside Jennifer Lamontagne. Through research, they found 30% of UI students are in poverty.

"It is, in fact, an interesting challenge that's being seen all over the country."

"Parents are too poor to support them, and when they get to be upper-classmen, they want to be on their own."

But, now those students have something to fall back on, with no questions asked. Schaefer put together the food pantry with help from the Eastern Illinois Foodbank, grants and donations.

"No matter race, color, creed, we just want to help."

One of the areas on campus most in need is Orchard Downs. It houses mostly international Chinese students who move here with their families and struggle to make it.

"We're reaching out to them with flyers that have been translated into Mandarin and have a student on-call that will be here to translate."

For a lot of these students, their next test is their biggest concern; but for the hundreds who are worrying about their next meal, "We're here to help." The pantry is open every second and fourth Wednesday of the month.

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