Local food pantries adjust to COVID-19 restrictions

In Carbondale, Illinois the Good Samaritan House, Wesley Foundation, and Saluki Food Pantry have had to change a few things due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but are still helping as many people as they can. 

The Good Samaritan House has a food pantry located at University Baptist Church in Carbondale. Their food pantry had to convert to a drive-through pantry when the first cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Illinois in January of 2020, said Kathleen Gallivan, head coordinator of the Good Samaritan House food pantry. 

This change meant people with vehicles were still able to come to the church, and have volunteers put bags of food in the trunk for them, Gallivan said. The food pantry operated as a drive through for about a year, and, since early 2021, it’s been moved back inside.


For people without vehicles, there wasn’t much anyone at the pantry could do besides offer information about buses to get them to the church, Gallivan said. 

The Jackson County Transportation picks up food pantry clients right at the food pantry, which is convenient for the clients, Gallivan said. 

“It often takes about 45 minutes for the bus to come,” Gallivan said. “In [winter] weather like this, it’s hard for people.”

Everybody working in the pantry is masked, social distancing is enforced, and disinfections often happen, Gallivan said.  

“The way that we have things set up now there’s quite a bit of client choice.” Gallivan said. “We have things set up on the table, and they take what they want or what they need from there as opposed to us just packing a box or a bag and giving it to them, which is what we were doing with the drive thru. They opened their trunk, and we put the food in, and off they went.” 

The food pantry was serving approximately 50 families a week, before COVID, said Gallivan, who has worked as head coordinator at the pantry since 2012, but now only serves around 20 to 30 families each Friday. 

“You know, sometimes people come to the pantry and they get enough food to last them a few days, hopefully until they get their next paycheck or their Social Security,” Gallivan said. “Then they are able to, let’s say, pay their electric bill, and that’s what it’s for. It’s an emergency food pantry.” 


Gallivan also encourages those who are in need of food to visit the soup kitchen located at the Good Samaritan House. 

Gallivan said the best way to support and help the food pantry is to provide a monetary donation.

“For a period of time the Saluki Food Pantry wasn’t open due to COVID,” McMahan said. “During that time, we distributed prepackaged food bags to students, instead of having them come into the pantry.”

The Saluki Food Pantry has served 199 students and dependents since August of 2021 and continues to get new visitors every week, McMahan said. 

“The Saluki Food Pantry is free for students and typically other pantries are free as well. If you are food-insecure then do not hesitate to reach out for help,” McMahan said. 

To get involved, students can volunteer and/or provide non-perishable foods like canned fruit, veggies, meat, pasta, beans, peanut butter, toothpaste, soap and toilet paper, or provide monetary donations, McMahan said. 

“There has also been an increase in community support because of COVID,” McMahan said. “People have been donating more, including Prairie Farms and Kroger.”

For those in need of food who are not available the days the Saluki Food Pantry is open, the Wesley Foundation offers a food pantry for SIU or John A. Logan students.

The Wesley Foundation, also located in Carbondale, is approximately an 11 minute walk from the SIU campus. 

To use the Wesley Foundation food pantry, you must be a student at SIU or John A. Logan College, and have your John A. Logan student class schedule or student id card. Clients receive two bags of pantry items with food and cleaning supplies, depending on what’s available at the time. 

Those needing the services provided by the pantry can come around every 27 days. This ensures all who come will receive the same amount based on the donations Wesley receives, according to their website. 

Those interested in volunteering are encouraged to contact Sherry at [email protected]. Donations are always welcome.  

The Good Samaritan House also offers an emergency shelter, a transitional housing program, a soup kitchen, and an emergency assistance program along with the food pantry,  according to their website

The food pantry is open Mondays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. each week, Gallivan said. 

The Wesley Foundation food pantry is open Tuesdays 1-4 p.m. and Wednesdays 2-4 p.m., additional information may be found on their website

The Saluki Food Pantry is open on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Fridays 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and is located in the basement of the Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIU) student center. Their goal is to provide food for any student or community member in need, Mallory McMahan, a worker at the food pantry, said. 

Staff reporter Carolyn Dickte can be reached at [email protected] 

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