University Park, IL,
14:12 PM

Great American Bagel Pop-Up Pantry

The students hurriedly push a cart of bagged bagels through the Governors State University Hall of Governors and a line starts forming at a table at the far end of the hall.

“It’s like this every week,’’ said Student Senator Trauvell Crawford, also assistant coordinator of the GSU Center for Civic Engagement’s Community Service Council, which runs a Great America Bagel Pop-up Food Pantry three times a week on campus. Crawford was joined on a recent pickup by fellow Senator Kendall Wright and Service Council member Terrance Lee, Jr.

Every Monday, Thursday, and Friday, the GSUXpress delivers the students to the University Park bagel store, where they collect an assortment of donated bagels – cinnamon raisin to jalapeno to poppy seed – left over at the end of the day.

On Monday and Thursday, the “pantry” springs up in the middle of campus about 3:30. On Fridays, it’s at Prairie Place, home to 300 students.

The Great American Bagel Pop-up Pantry is part of a broader student resource initiative, GSU4U, run by the Office of Student Life to address the issue of hunger on campus. The need came to the forefront last year, and in a recent study of 43,000 students at 66 two- and four-year schools, more than half the 76 students surveyed report being homeless or hungry some degree.

The pop-up will go on hiatus this summer and resume in the fall.

“This is our way of providing resources to those in need without any stigma. We are so grateful to Great American Bagel because there’s so much left over, people are able to take as much as they like.”

Chris Lettieri, President, the Great American Bagel, said he wants to help meet a need. “Instead of throwing out our end of day bagels, we donate them to GSU and other 501c charities, such as P.A.D.S., homeless shelters, to people in need. We try to help those folks who can use it.”

Crawford, a senior studying marketing, said he is promoting good will.

“I love volunteering and just took the initiative to do what no one else would. One day I might need something like this, so I’m paying it forward.”