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Need food? Try these on-campus pantries for free snacks, meals and produce

Western Washington University’s campus has five free food pantries, each has something for you to try

An illustrated map of Western Washington University shows the locations and hours of each free food pantry on campus. Pantries are labeled with red stars, while dining halls are in blue — to get free meal swipes at any dining hall, click here. // Illustration by Maren Duffy

Take a trip with me: you’re on the campus of Western Washington University, walking south towards the stairs to nowhere. You enter the Environmental Studies building and walk up that dingy flight of stairs to the second floor. Walking east, you pass the geology department’s various museum displays —  bugs stuck in amber and ancient animal tracks. Finally, you reach the end of the hallway — room 213. 

Look to your left and you’ll see a big set of cabinets and one small mini fridge. These, unlike the fossils just a few feet away, are quite new. The geology department just introduced their department’s food pantry, stocked with food for whoever passes by and needs it. 

“Take what you need. Leave what you can,” a sign on the fridge reads. 

The geology department pantry is just one of five pantries on campus where you can find free food — whether it’s a quick snack, a meal or even produce, you don’t need to leave campus to find what you need to feel full before, during and after class. 

Jon Stubblefield, Western’s recently hired resource navigator for basic needs, spends his day supporting students who are experiencing different types of barriers like food insecurity, homelessness and lack of disability accommodations. One of his jobs is to perform outreach efforts so that more students know what resources they have. 

“If we are an institution that actually wants people to do as well academically as they can, we should be providing access to basic needs,” Stubblefield said. “That certainly includes food security efforts.”

Authors of one study published in the Educational Researcher journal in 2017 wrote that food and housing security are both “consequential for student development and academic success.” 

The study found that more than half of the over 30,000 undergraduates surveyed in the U.S. said that they experienced some level of food insecurity. The authors of the study noted that “stereotypes of undergraduates eating ramen noodles” work against awareness of the very real impacts of food insecurity. 

“If you don't have enough to eat or you're not sure where your next meal is coming from, then it's really hard to relax, focus, enjoy yourself, have a strong immune system, any of those things,” Terri Kempton, Fairhaven instructor and manager of the Outback Farm said. Kempton said recent events like the pandemic and price inflation have made food access an even more critical cause to focus on.

Christine Grant, a second-year student who frequently utilizes on-campus pantries, said she wished more students knew about the available food on campus and actually used it. 

“We label ourselves as broke college students and we keep ourselves broke by going out of our way to spend money on food when there are pantries on the school's campus,” Grant said. “Those are all for us! I don't think people realize that.”

Grant said she “sniffs out” every food resource she can find on campus. She rattled off a list of some of her favorite produce and ingredients she’s found so far:

“There’s this banana macadamia nut pancake I found; in the springtime, I've had some butternut squash and zucchini … I got arugula from the pantry… mushrooms, green beans, a lot of dry beans,” Grant said. “I'm being given those provisions to make a really sound meal that's going to taste good, that's going to fill me up.”

Campus food pantries are stocked from a variety of different sources. The CEED pantry in Miller Hall operates in partnership with Acme Farms and four of the pantries on campus are supplied through a partnership with the local nonprofit Miracle Food Network. The Outback Farm also supplies the Fairhaven pantry with in-season produce. Department pantries are often stocked by faculty or department staff.

“People have the right to eat food,” Kempton said. “And they have the right to respect and dignity while they do it.”

If you are a Western student who needs access to food on campus, the listed pantries and food options are available to you. Download our free food access map here

Western Hub Of Living Essentials (W.H.O.L.E.) Pantry: Located in Viking Union 435. Open the same hours as VU. Provides perishable and non-perishable food and hygiene products. 

CEED Pantry: Located in Miller Hall 150. Open Tuesday - Friday, 12 p.m. - 5 p.m. Provides perishable and non-perishable food products.

Fairhaven Pantry: Located on the third floor of Fairhaven College directly across from the main office. Open 7 a.m. - 11 p.m. (same as the building hours). Provides fresh produce from the Outback Farm and other suppliers, snacks, herbs and teas.

Journalism Department Pantry: Located on the second floor of the Communications Facility, near the journalism faculty offices. Open 7 a.m. - 11 p.m. (same as the building hours). Provides snacks, fresh fruit, ready-to-cook meals and hygiene products. 

Geology Department Pantry: Located in the Environmental Studies building next to classroom 213: Located in the Environmental Studies building next to classroom 213. Open from 7 a.m. - 9:30 p.m (same as building hours). Provides perishable and non-perishable food items.

You can also sign up to receive free meals from any of the dining halls — Fairhaven Commons, Ridgeway Commons and Viking Commons — with Western’s Swipe Out Hunger Program. The program requires students to first request meal swipes to be added to their account through this form. If you have a campus meal plan, you can donate swipes here.

Have a pantry you’d like to see added to the list? Let us know by emailing The Front at

Liz McLane

Liz McLane is a fourth-year student studying journalism with a minor in Salish Sea studies. She enjoys the color green and good naps. You can find her on Instagram here, Twitter here and over email at

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