November 07, 2019

Thanks “Giving Back” Food Drive on Nov. 14 will benefit SIU students

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Many people need a little help and the “Thanks “Giving Back” SIU 150 Campus Food Drive provides a special opportunity to help Salukis. 

The food drive is set for 8 a.m. to noon on Nov. 14 at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.  All donations go to the Saluki Food Pantry, which has served more than 3,000 students and their families with food needs since opening its doors in August 2016.

The pantry’s goal is to assist students in times of need to help them stay in school and meet their educational goals.

Two ways to donate

Faculty, staff and community donations are welcome. Non-perishable food items and toiletries for the Saluki Food Pantry will be accepted in two different ways:

  • Art Gallery – simply drop off donations at the Student Center Art Gallery, located on the first floor of the Student Center near the south escalator, on the morning of Nov. 14. Carts will be available to bring in larger donations; call 618/453-3769 for assistance.
  • Office pickup – Contact Plant and Service Operations at 618/453-8185 or to schedule a donation pickup for any campus office.

Needs are particularly great for some items

Donations of any non-perishable food items, along with basic toiletries, are always welcome.  The items most highly sought and thus most-needed, include:

  • Canned fruits.
  • Canned meats (chicken, turkey, tuna, Vienna sausages.)
  • Pasta and pasta sauce.
  • Monetary donations. This enables the pantry to purchase the most needed items for students at any given time. The money does not go directly to the students but is used to purchase products.

While all donations are appreciated, organizers encourage donors to consider the type of foods college-age students typically eat and know how to cook.

Students and parking fines have helped

Thanks “Giving Back” is the third phase of an effort this fall  to stock the food pantry for the school year.

The Leadership Development Program, an SIU registered student organization, recently hosted a food drive to benefit the pantry and show support for fellow Salukis. The students collected 397 items and $281.52 in donations during their Homecoming food drive event.

In addition, the Department of Public Safety Parking Division sponsored a one-day “Can Your Parking Fine” event on Halloween to benefit the pantry. Anyone with a campus parking citation issued this semester was eligible to get a fine of up to $35 per person dismissed by donating a minimum of six cans of fruit or meat. People saved over $9,000 in fines by donating 1,686 items for students who utilize the pantry.

The need is real

The stories of those helped by the pantry are many and diverse.

A student arrived on campus with her financial resources carefully budgeted to cover her tuition, housing and textbooks, but she didn’t have sufficient funds to secure the food she needed while living in off-campus housing, Kent Epplin, associate director of the Student Center, recalls. The student hoped she could find enough food at campus events to make do until she started her job and got her first paycheck.

“She was made aware of the Saluki Food Pantry and we were able to assist her until she could purchase her own food,” Epplin said. “This is really what we are here for, a true account of our purpose.”

Epplin noted that food insecurity on college campuses often tends to go unnoticed, but said nearly one-third of SIU’s student population identifies as having some form of a food insecurity.

SIU is not alone in having students who need a helping hand; many universities now have food pantries. The St. Louis Area Foodbank recognizes the issue of food insecurity among college students and recently invited SIU and other institutions to join them in starting a Higher Education Anti-Hunger Coalition to share experiences and work collectively to combat food insecurity on college campuses.

Challenge is on

The Student Center is launching a challenge this fall. In honor of SIU’s 150th anniversary, the staff is challenging all campus groups to each donate 150 items to the pantry. 

The SIU group donating the most items to the food drive wins the “Golden Can” award. The group contributing the biggest monetary donation will receive the “Golden Dollar” award. Any campus group is eligible for one or both awards.

For those who want to help by making a monetary donations, a “one-for-one” credit is offered. Each $1 donated counts as one food item.

For more information:

The Saluki Food Pantry is located on the lower level of the Student Center and is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

For more information about the pantry or the Thanks Giving Back Food Drive, visit the website at or email