Did you know that Champaign County has the third-highest poverty rate in Illinois? That means 32,880 residents (that’s 16.5% of the population!) experience food insecurity each month.
Students at the Wesley Foundation Student Center make a difference in our community in a number of ways, but our special focus is on combating hunger in Champaign-Urbana, the rest of Illinois, and the world. Wesley is home to two hunger-fighting organizations, both of which offer a ton of opportunities to make a difference and put social justice into practice.
Illini Fighting Hunger
Illini Fighting Hunger is a student-led organization dedicated to, well, fighting hunger in Champaign-Urbana and around the world. IFH organizes and executes small- and large-scale food repackaging events, where volunteers use IFH equipment to package bulk-bought food into individual portions. These include monthly events packaging rice and beans for Wesley Evening Food Pantry, as well as huge events like the Community & Campus Day of Service (during which 147,000+ meals were packaged in 2014!). IFH events are perfect for groups interested in serving together, since it offers a fun and team-oriented experience that directly impacts our local community.
If you are interested in holding a packaging event for your own organization (church, fraternity/sorority, RSO, scout troop, etc.), click here to get in touch with IFH.
Founded in 2006 to combat a growing local problem (Champaign-Urbana has one of the highest rates of food insecurity in Illinois), the Wesley Pantry has grown into a major force in the local scene. Every month, on each Thursday, more than a thousand people visit Wesley to get the food they need to feed their families and make it to the end of the month. And in 2013, Wesley Pantry started another pantry at Parkland College, which gives out food four times a month. Learn more about the pantry in this video from local station WAND.
And none of that would be possible without volunteers. More than 1,500 University of Illinois students volunteer at the Wesley Pantry every year, joining Wesley members and others from the Chambana community. Volunteers do everything from unloading and organizing food on delivery day to helping clients select food during the pantry. If you’re interested in volunteering, click here to get more information or sign up.
There are other ways to help out, as well. Proceeds from Etc. Coffeehouse and Wesley’s annual haunted house support Wesley Pantry.