Basic Needs Hub lacks funding, provides essential student service


Erin Henze

A DePaul student and resident in University Hall scans into the dorm building. The university allocates only enough money to the Basic Needs Hub to pay for two student employees.

Despite the fact that 83% of DePaul University students live off campus, the Basic Needs Hub  (BNH) receives no set budget, according to a statement from Rick Moreci, associate vice president of Student Auxiliary Services and founder of the BNH. 

The BNH provides services for students, acting as a food pantry, and more recently, as a career closet to provide students with business attire. During the Covid-19 pandemic, many students got their food from the Hub because the dining halls were not open. 

Experts estimate that between 20%-50% of college students in the U.S. are food insecure, where access to healthy food on a regular basis is unreliable. With the increase in inflation since the pandemic, students are even more affected by rising costs. 

“After getting through the pandemic and seeing the high levels of use of the food pantry/career closet, we decided to expand our pantry and clothing offerings to also have a location on the Loop Campus,” said Moreci in an email to The DePaulia.

Despite the “high levels of use,” the BNH is funded entirely through donations. 

“When the pandemic came to be, we started seeing more and more donations from the DePaul community in the form of current faculty and staff, other students, alumni, parents, etc.,” Moreci said. “We also saw an outpouring of support from the Lincoln Park local community.”

The BNH primarily receives donations in the form of food and supplies, as well as financial donations, according to Moreci.

“The Office of Advancement has assisted us in running several successful campaigns to raise money for the BNH,” Moreci said.“Advancement has also helped us find donors for other items. In addition, our biggest partner with the BNH is Chartwells, our on-campus food provider.” 

According to Moreci, Chartwells was the only donor when the BNH first began.

Organizations within the university can also contribute donations for the BNH. 

“We hope to build partnerships within the university to increase donations,” said Jen Fox, associate director of Strategy, Assessment & Initiatives. “Athletics chose the Basic Needs Hub as their donation partner for the Big East Food Fight, where we will receive the items below.”

According to Fox, the Big East Food Fight brought in hundreds of donated food items worth $1,809.

While BNH is funded only by donations despite the student need, other DePaul organizations receive substantial funding for activities such as event hosting. 

DePaul Department of Housing staff would not say how much each resident advisor gets for events and student needs, and resident advisors at DePaul are not permitted to talk with The DePaulia without approval. 

Attendance numbers for these events were not disclosed by DePaul Housing, but based on DeHub registration for ResEd events from winter quarter showed that many events had less than six attendees.  

While the BNH does not receive direct funding from the university, they are allocated enough money to employ two student workers at BNH, according to Moreci. 

“I believe DePaul is very committed to the BNH as evidenced by the high levels of assistance we have received from across the university,”Morceci said. “We also employ two students to work for the BNH and these positions are paid for through university funds. So, while the BNH does not have a specific budget per se, we do get a lot of university support.” 

The amount of monetary support DePaul University gives to BNH was not offered to The DePaulia. 

Director of Housing and Residence Life Rod Waters did not respond to multiple attempts for comment.

However, Moreci is hopeful to further build the BNH.

“It has always been my intention to also build a more official university budget, but I have not done that as of yet,” Moreci said. “Keep in mind, as noted in one of my responses I sent yesterday, we do get a lot of financial support from DePaul, just not in the form of an official university budget.”

According to Fox, the BNH Hub will be holding a diaper, formula and wipes donation drive for student parents.