The Wesley Foundation: Ending food insecurity one pantry at a time


Trinity Brown

The Wesley Foundation building is located at 307 W. Dakota St. across from White Hall, where the organization serves free lunch on Wednesdays and Kairos Koffee.

Many colleges offer programs to lend a helping hand to students during hard times, which is what the SLU Wesley Foundation does for Southeastern. 

The Wesley Foundation runs the Lion Pride Food Pantry and the Lion Pride Career Closet which is located in McGehee Hall on the first and second floors. They also provide Kairos Koffeehouse along with multiple safe spaces inside the Wesley Foundation building located at 307 W. Dakota St. across from White Hall. 

Although primarily used by students, the pantry is open to all faculty and staff members. According to the Foundation’s website, it exists to serve the body, mind and soul of Southeastern’s students, faculty and staff.

They offer a variety of dry foods, from breakfast items to canned goods, food to cook with as well as snacks and drinks all for free with your school ID. They also host hygiene items, cleaning supplies and small dormitory essentials, while working to start keeping fresh and cold foods as well.  

Melissa Guerra, the organization director, explained how the Foundation is a campus ministry connected with the United Methodist Church but has turned into a place of refuge for any student to come and find a community of people who love and accept them. 

“We offer a coffee shop that gives back to the students, faculty and staff of SLU. It’s a place of unwavering generosity, love and grace in the forms of free food, clothing and anything that a student might need,” Guerra said

Guerra shared how during the pandemic in 2020 the campus shut down and everything was required to close with it, including the Food Pantry. However, due to the Wesley Foundation being considered off-campus, they planned to stay open and serve three hot plates a week to the community. 

She said, “MISA approached us to house and hand out prepackaged food bags, which we gladly said yes to. After the summer of 2020, Wendy Lauderdale and Dr. Eric Summers came to us to discuss taking over and managing the Food Pantry and we accepted knowing we would be able to not only keep the shelves well-stocked but also get the volunteers to have it open the entire week. We’ve been managing it ever since.” 

Tiquanna Toomer, a senior occupational safety, health and environment major, discovered the Wesley Foundation in 2018 through a friend and decided to work there the following semester. 

The Food Pantry in McGehee Hall Room 109 has a supply of dry foods, canned goods, snacks and more that is free for students with a school ID for up to 20 items per week. (Trinity Brown)

“It was the community and what they’re centered on and the meaning behind the things that they do that made me love it here,” Toomer said.

Toomer expressed how she does a little of everything for the Foundation now and plans to launch her tea business soon via social media on Kairos Koffeehouse inside of the Wesley Foundation. 

Rev. Sam Hubbard, an organizer at the Foundation, is also an advocate for opening the arms of the Foundation to the university and the community of Hammond. There are free meals served every Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. along with table talk on Tuesday nights. 

“For the school, we fill gaps that are harder for them to fill and do some connective work. We also collect data on cold food items and what they would like to see in our pantry. We ask, ‘Do you need anything else? Other food insecurity? Financial insecurity? Or even housing insecurity?’ We want to give help as much as we possibly can to those who may need it,” he said. 

The Southeastern Wesley Foundation plans on continuing to give students as much help as possible to ease the food or financial insecurities of any kind. 

“I know the services we provide can be life-changing for students, so to be a part of that work is so humbling. We know college isn’t easy, financially and every other way possible, so to be able to take away some of that stress and provide for a student’s basic needs is just a small and easy thing we can do to improve the life of a student while they’re at Southeastern,” Guerra said. 

You can contact the Wesley Foundation at 985-345-6175 or go to their website for any information and subscriptions to get updates on their services.