Did you know that Champaign County has the third-highest poverty rate in Illinois? That means that 32,340 residents, or 15.7% of the population, experience food insecurity each month.
Students at the Wesley Student Center, members of Wesley UMC, and community friends make a difference in our community in a number of ways, but our special focus is on fighting hunger in our community, the state of Illinois, and beyond. 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 fighting hunger in Champaign-Urbana and around the state. IFH organizes and leads small- and large-scale food repackaging events, where volunteers use IFH equipment to package bulk-bought food into individual portions. These events include packaging rice and beans for the Wesley Food Pantry, as well as huge gatherings, like the Community & Campus Day of Service (where over 150,000 meals were packaged in 2018). IFH events are perfect for groups interested in serving together since it offers a fun and team-oriented experience that directly benefits our local community.
If you are interested in hosting a packaging event for your own organization (church, fraternity/sorority, RSO, scout troop, business, non-profit, etc.), click here to get in touch with IFH.
Wesley Food Pantry
Founded in 2006 to combat a growing local problem, the Wesley Food 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, the Wesley Food Pantry started another pantry at Parkland College, which gives out food every week on Wednesday, as well as on two Saturdays per month. The first Monday of each month, the Wesley Food Pantry also distributes food to University of Illinois students through its Student-Only Pantry.
None of this would be possible without the food pantry volunteers. More than 1,500 University of Illinois students volunteer at the Wesley Food Pantry every year, joining Wesley members and others from the Chambana community. Volunteers do everything – from unloading and organizing food on delivery day to cultivating a vegetable garden to helping clients select food during the pantry. If you’re interested in volunteering, click here to get more information or to sign up.
There are other ways to help out, as well. Proceeds from Etc. Coffeehouse and coffee and tea sales during Sunday Coffee Hour support Illini Fighting Hunger and the Wesley Food Pantry.