The Eastern Kentucky University Colonel’s Cupboard, located on the second floor of Commonwealth Hall, is a free on-campus resource that provides food, clothing and toiletries to all EKU students.
Starting in 2014, the Colonel’s Cupboard was established after an on campus survey revealed that one in six EKU students suffered from food insecurity.
“Those numbers have since gone up,” says Dylan Bogard, the coordinator for community service programs and the Colonel’s Cupboard. “Looking at a national trend, anywhere between 35 to 40 percent of college students face food insecurity, and that’s just who reports it. We’re here to change that.”
The Colonel’s Cupboard is able to exist because of donations. Donations given to the Cupboard ensure that students, from non-traditional to single parents, have access to much needed supplies like toothpaste, shampoo, shoes, sanitary napkins and dry good items.
Through advertising and word of mouth, the Colonel’s Cupboard has seen an increase in students taking advantage of its resources. Bogard credits this to normalizing and reducing the stigma around food insecurity on campus.
Erica Kessinger, AmeriCorps VISTA and an education specialist at the Cupboard, plays a huge role in making sure that the Colonel’s Cupboard runs smoothly and effectively. Kessinger, a recent graduate of EKU’s social work program, said she enjoys interacting with students and, “being back on campus, and giving back to a community that gave so much to me.”
She oversees day-to-day operations that include making sure incoming donations are sorted, organized, in date and weighted to be distributed to the students. Beyond her responsibilities, she enjoys taking time to speak with students who stop by and may be having a rough day.
Currently, the Cupboard is in need of items, including soap, feminine hygiene products, peanut butter, crackers, clothing and easy, instant meals like easy mac. Volunteers are needed most for the two largest food drives in the fall and spring semesters, dates are to be announced soon.
Students can stop by during open hours: Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 1 to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday 8 to 11 a.m. and Friday 1 to 4 p.m. or by appointment. The cupboard is also available to students before holiday and university breaks.