The Homelessness and Food Insecurity Task Force (HFI) at Roosevelt University strives to provide inclusive experiences for all students—providing resources to help students feel more safe and secure.
First, they created the on-campus Food & Hygiene Pantry in 2017 to help any and all Roosevelt students in need of non-perishable items and basic toiletries. Now, HFI is introducing its new RU Career Closet, a donation-driven resource for Roosevelt students to find free, gently used business attire for interviews and other professional events.
Charity Seaborn, Director of the Office of Student Rights & Responsibilities, said the feedback from the original Food & Hygiene Pantry itself was immensely positive, as it offers students a lot of flexibility they might not have otherwise with their nutrition choices. "For many students, it [the Pantry] supplements their diets in a variety of ways," she says. "The majority of students we work with are missing meals, and the pantry supplements their needs." Seaborn said that the Pantry helped students with little liquid funds. It also helps commuter students and those with families at home acquire food and toiletries.
In Fall of 2018, the HFI finalized a partnership with the Greater Chicago Food Depository, which allowed them to start ordering fresh foods to supplement the nonperishable food inventory of the pantry. In addition to the expansion of the pantry Seaborn said says this led her and the HFI to eventually establish The RU Career Closet, which opened officially on February 5, 2019. Students can now not only supplement their nutrition, but also feel secure in knowing they have free wardrobe options available for important interviews and work opportunities.
With these resources now available to students, Seaborn and her team already have ideas for how to use them in the most beneficial way. "We want to do some programming around the initiatives we have," she says. "For example: With items in the Food & Hygiene Pantry, how can you create a nutritious meal? For the RU Career Closet, how do you make four to five key pieces work in a business setting or an interview?" Seaborn hopes these initiatives lead to further ways to connect with the greater Chicago community as they evolve.
Going forward, Seaborn wants to see a few major developments happen with both the Food & Hygiene Pantry and the new RU Career Closet. "First, I want more students to know that these resources aren't just for students in dire need—they're available to all students," she says. "Long-term, we want to reduce student need for items, but not the access or availability of resources to our students. We also want to get a bigger space and be open all day, five days a week."
Simply put, Seaborn and her team always ask: "how can we help you further?" Seaborn hopes to truly spread the word about both programs across the University so she can continue refining the answer to that question—and so that all Roosevelt University students know that no matter what, they're safe and secure when they're here.
For more information about donating items, or for information about requesting the use of the Food & Hygiene Pantry or RU Career Closet, please contact HFI at email@example.com. For donation and location information, click here »