West Liberty University’s student life introduces new on-campus food pantry

West Liberty University’s new on-campus food pantry.

It’s a brand-new year on the Hilltop, and with that comes a slew of new initiatives spearheaded by members of our campus community. Both students and faculty alike are doing fantastic things for West Liberty University – and one such mission is WLU’s new on-campus food pantry.

The new food pantry is located on the second floor of the Student Union, room S-17, and offers students non-perishable food and personal care items to be taken and used completely free of charge. Fully sustained by the generosity of various donors, the pantry gladly accepts donations through their Amazon wish list, which can be found here, as well as on their website.

Currently, the pantry is looking for donations of canned meats, fish, soup, canned fruits, canned vegetables, peanut butter, pasta, grain products (rice) and cereal. The non-food items needed include deodorant, soap, shampoo, toilet tissue, toothpaste and toothbrushes, shaving soap and feminine hygiene products.

Hours of the pantry vary based upon monitor availability, but students are encouraged to email [email protected] to set up a particular pick up time. In the event of a pick-up, students are required to fill out a one-time profile card and an inventory sheet on each visit.

Kate Billings, WLU’s director of student activities/title IX coordinator, led the creation of this initiative on campus along with her staff as she saw a real need from students who might be without a car or meal plan. In the light of COVID-19, where food insecurity was something that everyone was facing; “The University is always assessing how we can improve the student experience for all types [of] students and from different backgrounds. How are we helping some of our students who may be experiencing food insecurity? If we can help with the food insecurity, maybe they are able to focus on their classes with[out] [worrying] if [they need] to pick up an extra shift at work to pay for a meal, or finding [a] ride to the Highlands if they don’t have a car,” said Billings.

The university used to have a food pantry that was located in Rogers Hall prior to Billing’s time at West Liberty but fell out of use. However, Billing’s explained that it seemed like the right time to bring back the facility as the need was there from our campus community.

When asked why she thought the food pantry was such an important resource for WLU, Billings went on to discuss that it’s no secret that many college students face financial struggles in the wake of student loans, books, meals and gas. Billings hope is to alleviate some of this stress upon students by giving them a resource that is essentially always at the ready.

“If you’re hungry or you don’t have a place to live, or you are worrying about bills, you cannot focus on completing your homework, much less on learning, because you’re in survival mode. Now they won’t need to leave campus or drive down the hill if they are in need. They can stop in at the Union and pick up some items in between classes or work,” said Billings.

Billings explained that the pantry is set up to have a one-time intake form to collect general data. After that, an inventory form is used to help monitor the pantry more closely by transaction.

Currently, the pantry is mainly stocked with non-perishable food items, and more donations consisting of soaps, deodorants, and feminine care products are currently coming in. Billings and her staff have big plans for the food pantry; “We are hoping to expand more into household items like toilet paper in the future. We are also talking with a local farmer and will be having fresh eggs available too! We’d love to see a fresh food day/more refrigerated items that may lend to a more well-balanced budget,” said Billings.

While the food pantry initiative is only just beginning, it can already be clearly seen that Billings and her staff have huge plans for not only the pantry, but the campus community as a whole. For more information regarding the food pantry, feel free to contact Kate Billings at [email protected].