EWU football fuels food pantry awareness on campus

Safety Dehonta Hayes leads promotional campaign and canned food drive


Colleen Ford

Saftey Dehonta Hayes poses in front of the PUB food pantry as part of a promotional campaign led by Hayes to sponsor the program. The football team is holding a canned food drive to help fill the pantries through April.

By Taylor Newquist, Sports Editor

There are seven food pantries across  campus and EWU safety Dehonta Hayes, who will be a redshirt senior next season, wants you to know about every one of them.

Hayes, who is a communications studies major, partnered with the Office of Community Engagement as a part of a public relations campaign class. He met with the Community Outreach coordinator, Arick Erechar, who told Hayes to emphasize that the food pantries were available to everyone on campus.

Hayes said since learning about the food pantries he has been using them as well.

On March 5, Hayes gathered members of the football team to do a photoshoot to promote the use of the food pantries. With the photos, Hayes plans to make posters to spread awareness for a canned food drive the football team started on March 11 that will go toward filling the pantries.

There are two donation locations on campus: one in front of the Eagle Store in the PUB, and the other in front of the locker rooms in the Phase. Dry and non-perishable goods are accepted.

“I thought we’d have a huge impact on campus and in the community,” Hayes told The Easterner. “It’s another step in (the football team’s) leadership. We’ve been reading to kids and going to the children’s hospital, so it’s one more thing to show how much we care about our community.”

The food drive will run through March and continue the entirety of April.

“We can go as far as we can with this,” Hayes said. “Really make something good out of it.”

Safety Anthany Smith, who will be a redshirt sophomore next season, is one of the other football players aiding with the food pantries. When Hayes asked him to help out two weeks ago, Smith thought it was a great idea.

“We’re just getting it started,” Smith said. “We’re in Cheney and there are a lot of families that don’t have the food they need, so I think it’s a great thing.”

Smith said that the members of the football team will be promoting the canned food drive through their social media pages. He added that the football team aiding with different programs that give back to the community is important because of the bigger platform they have, and their ability to make an impact.

Erechar echoed that sentiment and said that having the football team help with the food pantries is beneficial to the Office of Community Engagement because of the potential audience, and added awareness the players can bring to the food pantry program.

“People will listen,” Erechar said. “Getting them on board really helps send the message out. We can only do so much considering what our audience is.”

Hayes plans on continuing to help with the food pantries going into next quarter. He said stepping up and taking on projects like this is an important step for him as he goes into a leadership role in his senior season on the football team. He said when other people see those kind of actions, they are going to want to do the same thing.

“The football team is taking strides to show our fans and our supporters that we care about the community,” Hayes said.

Hayes made a huge impact filling in last season when Tysen Prunty and Mitch Fettig were out with injuries. He finished third on the team with 87 tackles and maintained the starting role through the FCS National Championship game. The Eagles kick off spring practice on April 2.

The food pantries are located in Showalter Hall, Isle Hall, Sutton Hall, the PE Classroom building, the JFK Library, the URC and the PUB. The food provided aims to combat food insecurity, and is available to all students and staff.