Seeing Success & Change: Macomb

Jul 10, 2019

With our mission lasting for many decades, it is easy to see why younger parts of our communities are always readily welcomed in order to begin creating the next generation of change. This constant connection to new creative spirits has always brought to life some of the most amazing evolutions to The Salvation Army. How we operate many of our current services or programs can be traced back to driven and dedicated young adults and leaders that will always inspire us. Our mission will never change but the causes that matter most to us and our communities are met in new and exciting ways. A great example seen here in the Heartland Division is how hunger is met in countless different approaches that fit right for each of our localities. Whether it is food pantries or meal programs, no two services look exactly alike. In Macomb however, there is something entirely different driven by the youth at Western Illinois University (WIU).

The anniversary of a partnership with WIU celebrates a unique food pantry. A resource run by students, for students; and it truly brings to life the idea of doing the most good because it is supplied fully from the food pantry at the Macomb Corps. This has been a blessing to keep fresh food on the shelves for those in need while also, now, not wasting any excess. Major Allen Otto echoes this good news anytime you ask him about the budding partnership with WIU: “I’ll bend over backward for anyone who is helping themselves and that is why I love college students. I am very humbled and grateful.”

Every week the pantry sees up to 80 students come to receive meals and snacks, and this number is growing. All of those who are helped are not just getting food. “I want to help meet students with more food because I know that it leads to a better education.” Major Otto said. Relieving worries and stress related to food insecurity as well as giving them access to nutritious meals does give students better educational development, and they know this themselves. Casey Hendrickson is the pantry’s operations and inventory manager and knows the importance first hand for the students. “This pantry is to help our fellow students be successful while at Western, it is something more than just making sure someone is fed.” Hendrickson said.

The success this program is allowing students to achieve is being recognized already. Dr. Emily Shupe, who teaches at WIU and created the campus food pantry, shared what she finds valuable in the student run approach.

“It is students feeding students, and that means they get to practice their classroom lessons too.” She described how she has seen dietary, management, and other classroom based skills being implemented to organize and operate the food pantry. “It is a tremendous resource!” Dr. Shupe said.

A simple idea to meet a need on campus has brought about so many great changes and it doesn’t seem to stop there. “They are helping us in return and building a partnership. I am thrilled” said Major Otto. The Salvation Army and WIU will be doing the most good in Macomb together, bringing new opportunities for growth and support.

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