File Photo/The Lion's Roar
Since the effects of COVID-19 have reached the Southeastern community, Multicultural and International Student Affairs announced on March 19 that the Food Pantry in McGehee Hall will close for the remainder of the semester.
Located on 307 W. Dakota St. in Hammond, the Wesley Foundation will be handling the dispensation of perishables and non-perishables to campus goers during the Food Pantry’s absence. In addition, they will provide nutritious, prepackaged food bags and free lunches. One bag can include items like Pop-Tarts, granola bars, canned tuna, lotion, soap and Band-Aids.
The Wesley Foundation will allow visitors to pick up bags Mondays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. To-go lunches may be picked up on Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Both bags and lunches are available at a table set up outside the building to minimize how many people enter the establishment.
Melissa Guerra, associate director of the Wesley Foundation, explained that students continue to visit the organization despite the unstable conditions.
“For a normal semester, we see dozens of people a day, sometimes hundreds, through our coffee shop, free lunch, and just being a safe place to hang out and be yourself,” said Guerra. “So that’s drastically changed with all that’s going on.”
Guerra also explained the actions the foundation is taking to ensure a stable inventory to meet the visitors’ needs.
“We’ve been working daily with the administration, MISA and Our Daily Bread, a local food pantry, to make sure the food pantry remains stocked with supplies,” explained Guerra. “We partner with 16 local churches to provide home-cooked meals each week during the semester.”
Guerra shared that the foundation met with the Social Work Club and National Alliance on Mental Illness, who have decided to use their remaining funds to supply the pantry with essential items.
Precautions are being taken to guarantee that the methods of distribution remain hygienic.
“Our workers and volunteers are mainly inside helping to package boxes and bring them out to one person standing outside,” stated Guerra. “We are limiting who comes in contact with those who can be quarantined away from our building so the food pantry can remain open and so our residents remain safe.”
Guerra described that the workers are required to wear gloves while handling the resources and change them often, use good hand-washing techniques, try to remind others not to touch their faces and clean the building daily.
The Wesley Foundation has an inventory to accommodate its visitors but is accepting and encouraging any possible donations. Donations can be brought to the table outside during the pantry’s regular hours.
Lastly, Guerra shared the impact that the Wesley Foundation has felt from the situation and what keeps its members motivated to continue serving the university.
“Because of everything that is going on, we’ve been able to strengthen our relationships with administration and even form new relationships, students and staff alike,” said Guerra. “We are always going to put the Southeastern community first and do all that we can in whatever way we can to make sure they are taken care of.”
Anyone interested in making a donation or seeking more information can email [email protected], call 985-345-6175 or visit sluwesley.org.