For well over a decade, the Wesley Foundation has been serving one hot, homemade meal to students each week. Now Fairmont State University has teamed up with Aladdin Food Services to help the Wesley Foundation combat hunger on Fairmont State’s campus.
Rev. Maria Wiblin said the program started just on Thursdays and the fourth Tuesday of every month and she added the second Tuesday about a year ago. With the help of President Dr. Mirta Martin and Aladdin they have now added even more days.
Lunch is served from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday, Thursday and Friday as well as the second and fourth Tuesday of every month. Rev. Wiblin noted that President Martin has shared her concerns about students going hungry and that 49 percent of first-time students are receiving Pell Grants.
Pell Grants are awarded to undergraduate students who have no yet earned a bachelor’s degree or graduate degree with significant financial need. These are considered the foundation of federal financial aid and do not have to be repaid.
“There’s an old African proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child and we are part of that village, our students are part of that village. Our faculty and staff are that village to our students. When we give, it comes back tenfold,” President Martin said. "All data suggests, on a nonemotional basis, that students who are hungry cannot perform.”
President Martin said it’s time for the University to pass it forward and to make sure students have at least one hot meal to eat a day even for those who don’t have the opportunity to have a meal plan.
“I want people to know we have a hunger need on our campus and what we’re doing here is working to curb that,” Rev. Wiblin said. ”I don’t think people think about college students going hungry, we think about elementary school kids and the homeless. We have kids that are going hungry on our campus.”
Aladdin is donating food to help feed students on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays while churches volunteer on Thursdays to cook and serve the students. Rev. Wilbin explained that Aladdin donates 40 pounds of eight-cut chicken, 40 pounds of pork and eight #10 cans of green beans as well as eight large bags of salad every week.
“While we’re United Methodist based and supported by the United Methodist and Presbyterian churches, we’re open to any church wanting to help,” she said. “The biggest thing is the kids are so grateful. College kids get a bad rap for being rude and disrespectful but when you’re down here you get to see the positive.”
Rev. Wiblin noted they also have a food pantry at the Wesley House for students to help supplement their meals during the week. They are always open to take donations of nonperishable items such as snack bars, mac and cheese, and other easy items for students.
The Nest, a food bank open for all students, is also located on the second floor of the Falcon Center. Items in the Nest are at no cost to the students, they just need to present their student ID.
The hours of operation this semester are as follows: 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 4-8 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 1-3 p.m. and 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; and 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Friday.
If any churches would be interested in serving or anyone interested in donating to the food pantry, contact Rev. Wiblin at Maria.firstname.lastname@example.org. The Wesley House is located at 1224 Locust Avenue. More information can be found by visiting www.wesleyhouse-fairmontstate.org.