Local AmeriCorps member helps create campus food pantry for students

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MOLINE, Ill. (KWQC) — Western Illinois University-Quad Cities have teamed up with AmeriCorps VISTA, to bring a campus food pantry for its students and staff.

Courtesy of WIU Department of Student Services.

AmeriCorps is a network that connects thousands of Americans to service programs. Local AmeriCorps member Dan Dankert funded a food pantry for students at Western Illinois University- Quad Cities. He said students and staff would no longer have to worry about their next meal. Dankert said 38% of students face hunger and food insecurity at WIU.

“Last thing we want is a student sitting in class and taking a test and are thinking how am I going to put food on the table,” said Dankert.

As a former student, Dankert said something he is all too familiar with is having to find food on campus while attending school. Dankert said starting the food pantry would help students worry less.

“This is something that I’m really passionate about. We have a very interesting and very nontraditional student population—the average age of a student here is 27-years-old and we have a lot of students who have families who are older who are working 20 hours a week—trying to go to school and trying to put food on the table,” he said.

Students who want to use the food pantry will have to apply, according to Dankert. Food is given based on the student’s or staff member’s family size. Student Marissa Kletke said she is glad the food pantry will be on campus for students to use.

“As a college student you know it’s hard to balance a healthy diet, so knowing that the food pantry is there full of nutritious food, I think it’s a really good idea and way to stay healthy,” she said.

The pantry has only been open for a few weeks, and Dankert said more than 650 pounds of food were donated to the pantry. He hopes for fall of 2017, donations will increase.