Students at Monmouth College who need help with food or dressy clothing can find assistance at the school’s rebranded “Highlander Hub.”

Located on the lower level of the Stockdale Center, also known as the College’s student center, the Highlander Hub will provide Monmouth students who experiencing food insecurity with non-perishable food items as well as hygiene products. It will also double as a “careers closet” and offer clothing that can be checked out to students for such occasions as job interviews, Greek life functions or awards ceremonies.

Grace Simpson, a senior from Metamora, IL has taken on a leadership role with Highlander Hub, partly through her new leadership position with the Stockdale Fellows program, which is administered by the College’s Wackerle Center for Career, Leadership and Fellowships.

“We want to provide students with the tools they need to create healthy meals in a dorm setting,” said Simpson of the idea behind Highlander Hub. “And the clothing we have is all washed, ironed and ready for them to wear off the hanger. It will be checked out to students, likely for a week at a time.”

Monmouth has approximately 15 Stockdale Fellows per class, which means plenty of volunteers to keep the program going. “We hope to be able to come at this from the angle of ‘many hands make light work,'” said Wackerle Center director Marnie Steach Dugan ’95. “The hope is that the Stockdale Fellows will be able to do this as one of their primary projects.”

The Highlander Hub’s official hours are yet to be finalized, but Simpson said the space would be open for several hours each day. Stockdale Fellows will staff the space for some of the time. Organizers expect the closet will be expanded to include winter wear and a drive for such items as coats, hats, scarves, gloves and boots will likely be held at some point during the fall semester.

The Chaplain’s Office created a space to serve students who experience food insecurity, especially during College breaks and between semesters after a request was made from the College’s Student Affairs Office. It was originally located in the Weeks House on the southeast corner of campus. A few months later the pandemic hit, and Monmouth’s students learned remotely or in a hybrid setting for the remainder of the 2020 calendar year. During the past academic year, the College’s Interfraternity Council began supporting the project.

When former associate chaplain Jessica Hawkinson got the food pantry idea off the ground four years ago, she said she had learned more about the issue “through the Association of Campus and University Food Banks. There are universities and colleges, including some in the area, who are trying to meet food security needs in a variety of ways. But it differs from campus to campus.”

To help raise awareness for the new space, and in keeping with campus-wide sustainability efforts, students will be given reusable bags with the Highlander Hub logo during orientation. The intent is for them to use those bags when picking up food items.

“From the time they set foot on campus, they’ll know that this is a good resource for them,” said Dugan.

Although the Stockdale Fellows will run the Hub’s operations, other campus organizations are welcome to be involved. A faculty-staff food drive is also in the planning stages to help stock the shelves.