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New Food Locker at JALC Helps Students Facing Food Insecurity

Published on September 13, 2022

JALC staff members Adrienne Barkley Giffin, Heather Chandler, Donnie Winget, Cathrine Hoekstra, Francie Morhet, Ashleigh Couty, and Melissa Luttenbacher.

In the Photo: JALC staff members Adrienne Barkley Giffin, Heather Chandler, Donnie Winget, Cathrine Hoekstra, Francie Morhet, Ashleigh Couty, and Melissa Luttenbacher.

Food insecurity can harm college students’ ability to achieve their educational and professional goals. According to the most recent Hope Survey from fall 2020, 38 percent of students in two-year colleges reported experiencing food insecurity. With higher gas and grocery prices crippling budgets, that number has likely increased over the past year.

To help students facing food insecurities, John A. Logan College has converted a former office, Room C 200C in the Student Services Wing, into a new Food Locker. The Food Locker is a free service to students that provides nutritious on-the-go snacks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with no questions asked.

According to staff that has helped organize and stock the Locker, seeing the appreciation on students’ faces has made it rewarding.

 “I love to see the students’ faces when they realize that it is here and they can take what they need, no questions asked,” said Cathrine Hoekstra, Perkins Support Coordinator. “Sometimes they tell us a little bit about what is going on in their life, and some just say thank you, but it is just really good to see that they know that there is a place that can help and that people care about them.”

The idea for the Food Locker came about after Child Care Resource and Referral Staff members Ashleigh Couty and Melissa Luttenbacher attended the Food Securities Summit at the Pavilion in Marion last September.

 “When we heard about all the needs for the food pantries in our area, we knew we needed to do something on campus,” said Couty, CCRR’s Professional Development Coordinator. “We applied for a mini-grant but did not get it, and that is when we heard the John A. Logan College Foundation offered campus grants. We applied, and the Foundation gave us the seed money to get it opened.”

Assistant Vice President for Advancement and the John A. Logan College Foundation Staci Shafer was excited to see the funding request, and she hopes the Foundation can continue to help.

“The JALC Foundation board was very excited about the grant application for the Snack Locker.  The food insecurity issue many students face is concerning, and the Foundation is happy to play a small part in helping students overcome that challenge,” said Shafer. “The Campus Grants committee is interested in continuing to help support the snack locker in the future when funding is available.  

Luttenbacher, the Health and Safety Coordinator for CCRR, said they chose a Food Locker instead of a traditional pantry to provide on-the-go meals and snacks to students throughout the day and beyond.

“I can’t imagine coming to work hungry, let alone class hungry everyone deserves food, and I believe that we need to provide that for them,” said Luttenbacher. “This is not just a service for while they are on campus; if they need food for the weekend or evening, that option is also available.”

Students in need can contact any of the listed individuals: Cathrine Hoekstra C 203 A, ext. 8075; Francie Morhet C203B, Ext. 8041; Donnie Winget C219B, ext. 8516; Adrienne Barkley Giffin C214, ext. 8287; Heather Chandler C201, ext. 8386; Rachel Sveda-Webb C207, ext. 8275. Individuals wishing to donate to the Food Locker can contact Cathrine Hoekstra at cathrinehoekstra@jalc.edu.