Idema: Our Student Food Pantry & Clothes Closet

At Calvin Theological Seminary, the Idema Food Pantry and Clothes Closet is an extension of our care for seminarians and their families. Once a week, individuals and families can receive food (including fresh produce, meat, and dairy items), clothing, household supplies, children’s toys and games, and more—at no cost. 

Our students are in training for important ministry work, and many are giving up the opportunity to work at a full- or part-time job in order to focus on seminary. In turn, we commit to helping them meet their basic needs, with excellent grocery options and community-provided goods.

What Is a Food Pantry?

A food pantry is a community service to provide food and other items of sustenance for individuals who would benefit from budget relief. The seminary offers a food pantry to students in order to help them focus on their studies without having the burden of a high grocery bill.

What Kind of Items Are Available?

Many food items are bought fresh weekly and include fruit, vegetables, dairy, and more. Nonperishable items and baking ingredients are also available. Pantry coordinators take suggestions from students to help make each week’s offerings relevant and useful for individuals and families. 

Clothing options include tops, bottoms, coats, shoes, and socks for adults and children. Seasonal items, including winter accessories such as hats and mittens, are available for people of all ages. 

Inventory changes often and can also include toiletries and hygiene items, household items (like towels, kitchen supplies, and servingware), and children’s items for school and play.

Who Donates to the Food and Clothing Pantry?

People just like you! Seminary faculty, staff, and students all give to the food pantry and clothes closet. In fact, families with growing children often exchange a bag of one size of clothing for another, to help the next family with little ones.

Area churches hold ongoing collections for food items, as well as specific drives for seasonal needs of the pantry—like Christmas presents for children or winter accessories. Local knitters create clothing, baby blankets, quilts, towel sets, and more.

Donors choose the Idema Food Pantry and Clothes Closet for giving because they believe in supporting the callings of seminary students and providing well for the basic needs of students.  Individual donors and businesses from all over the globe can contribute financially to funding fresh food—purchased by pantry coordinators from local discount stores and  nonprofit food partnerships.

There is no requirement for students to donate to the pantry to use it, but many choose to contribute a small portion of the value of what they’ve received, in order to give back to other students.

Using the Student Food Pantry

If you are a Calvin Theological Seminary student and your household meets the income requirements, you are eligible to use the resources of the pantry. The Idema is open during the academic year on Mondays and Wednesdays. Contact student life for this semester’s specific times. 

Your first visit to the Idema will be a welcoming experience, as a pantry coordinator or volunteer will show you around and help you to find the items you need. Simply show your student ID to begin shopping. By shopping the pantry and/or clothes closet, you affirm that you meet the income requirements.

Who Has Access to the Student Food Pantry?

Students and their immediate families (spouse and children) may use the Idema Food Pantry if their income is below the income eligibility guidelines established by The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) in Michigan. For example, a single-person household in 2022 would have an annual income of less than $27,180 to qualify for pantry assistance.

Learn More About the Idemas

The Idema Food Pantry and Clothes Closet is named for the late Bill and Bea Idema, the caring and faith-filled philanthropists who made the founding gift to establish this community resource at the seminary. The Idemas’ generosity extended around West Michigan to many causes, and the seminary is grateful for the legacy they left on campus. When students use this pantry, they remember God’s faithfulness and the kindness of the Idema family.

Are You Looking to Donate or Volunteer?

The Idema is able to serve students with excellence because of our community partners, with more being added every year. 

Individuals can support seminarians by giving online or by providing items locally by coordinating with the pantry through email. In order for seminarians and their families to look and feel their best, donated clothing should be washed, without stains, and in style. Food items should be unexpired and unopened.

If you are interested in donating items from a business, including but not limited to a grocery store, convenience store, or clothing store, please contact to coordinate.

We are always looking for more congregations and other community partners to organize short-term drives or long-term collections. Our pantry coordinators would love to hear from your church or organization

The Idema is truly a community effort. Students and families who receive items from the Idema are asked to volunteer as they are able to keep the pantry running smoothly.

Additional Resources for Calvin Seminary Students

The following are additional community resources that can be accessed by Calvin students. If you are connected to or familiar with another resource for seminarians and their families, please let us know.

Grand Rapids Food Co-op

This local food cooperative allows low-income families to buy in as owners and receive quality foods at reduced prices. Families not meeting income eligibility for reduced prices can also buy in at a standard rate. Learn More

Eastern Avenue CRC Saturday Food Program

Fresh and canned food is available to anyone in the community at low prices, with no income requirements. Learn More


Many seminary students and families choose to shop at local Aldi stores for their excellent prices and deals. Learn More

For Additional Help, Contact the Student Life Office

We welcome your generosity, connections, and support. Please contact our pantry team or give today.