Cardinals Food Pantry combats hunger on campus



One of the lesser known hidden gems around the Lamar University campus lies between Combs Hall and the Dining Hall, inside the doors of the Wesley Foundation: the Cardinals Food Pantry.

Formed from the belief that no student at Lamar University should ever go hungry, the Cardinals Food Pantry is a free, anonymous resource for LU students, specifically designed to combat food insecurity among students that attend the university. Recent literature studies show that even prior to the pandemic, one in three college students experienced food insecurity. Since 2017, the Cardinals Pantry has operated with the goal of helping students on their scholastic journey by providing access to free, nutritious food, among other resources.

“The Pantry was established by a working group of departments who all came together to find a way to help our students on campus with food insecurity,” said Brandie Van Zanden, director of new student and leadership programs. “The Wesley Foundation supports, runs and manages the pantry. We also work with the Southeast Texas Food Bank to set up donations and establish a way for students to have a short-term fix by visiting the pantry, but also be provided long term services and support if needed.”

Pastor Amy Walker has been at the Wesley Foundation for five years as a campus minister, supporting both Lamar University students and students in the southeast Texas area.

“We were actually already doing Snack Pack Fridays, where we give out these little bags on Fridays that hold students over for the weekend,” Walker said, recalling efforts made before the creation of the pantry. “We started hearing that there’s a lot of food insecurity here at Lamar, so we all met and kind of established, ‘Okay, there really is a food insecurity, we need to provide more.’”

The Cardinals Food Pantry is in part operated with the help of the Southeast Texas Food Bank, and made possible through the department of New Student and Leadership Programs, the dean of students, the vice president for student engagement, and the Wesley Foundation. St. Marks Episcopal Church financially assists the pantry in cases where funds, food or supplies are low. The pantry hasn't’t been low since its inception, and because of this, they have no restrictions or limits on the amount of food students can take.

“We have yet to have to go back to the food bank and get more food because we have so many people who donate food,” Walker said. “As long as it’s donated, we don’t have any restrictions on giving out the food, which is awesome.”

The Cardinals Food Pantry accepts donations from just about any source; clubs and organizations that conduct food drives and collect goods for the pantry are in large part responsible for its prosperity. At times, some of the food collected may be unsuitable for the pantry or there’s already an abundance of certain items so, the Wesley Foundation encourages donators to ask what kinds of food the pantry currently needs before conducting the food drive.

“Any students or faculty that need food are more than welcome to come and use the Food Pantry,” said Trevor Guidry, pastoral intern at the Wesley and junior at the LU. “What you need is just your Lamar ID, sometimes they want you to have a slip, but we don’t necessarily turn people away if they don’t have that. We just want to be able to help whoever needs the help. It’s not too much, it’s a pretty easy process, and we love being able to have that opportunity to help people out on campus.”

The Wesley Foundation and the Cardinals Food Pantry is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays. They’re also open throughout the summer, and the hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

“Most of our students that hang out in the Wesley use the food pantry, there’s no stigma behind it,” Walker said. “You’re in college, you know? You’re a college student, it’s okay to get help from somewhere if you need that extra help, or even if you’re hungry and don’t want to drive to the store, come to the food pantry.”

For more information on the Cardinals Food Pantry, students, faculty and staff can reach out to Amy Walker, campus minister at, or visit