COVID-19 | Faculty, staff discuss measures to maintain WIU’s supply chain during pandemic

By AUDREY GNIECH, Guest Reporter

MACOMB, Illinois (NEWS3) — Western Illinois University used proactive measures to help ensure students could have their necessities when the supply chain industry was overwhelmed due to the pandemic. 

The supply chain industry deals with the logistics of how the goods we use — for example manufactured products, paper goods, and the food we eat — is produced and distributed throughout the nation.

Associate professor Honey Zimmerman from WIU’s supply chain management department explains how manufacturing was first affected by the pandemic.

“When manufacturers are making food or products for commercial facilities like WIU or restaurants, prisons, schools, then everything kind of shifted,” Zimmerman said. “People were staying at home, so they were making bulk products for commercial sale when instead now, everybody’s converting to staying at home, so they needed residential.”

For students who remained living on campus and quarantined through the spring and summer, WIU’s Sodexo services acted to make sure that students had the items and food that they would need. 

Colby Rhodd is the general manager of Sodexo services on campus. He said Sodexo was able to maintain effective operation at the beginning of the pandemic.

“We were actually lucky enough to team up with some of the other schools and take on some of their inventory that they had on stock because we did stay open, we kept the dining halls open for the students throughout the pandemic and the summer,” Rhodd said. “We do partnerships with hundreds and hundreds of suppliers, not just food, but medical supplies and food service equipment throughout the country, not only throughout the country, but throughout the world. That is one of the big benefits of working for a larger company like Sodexo is that when disasters and things like that take over, we can really rely on our partnerships with our suppliers.”

For more information about the changes to the dining hall services and procedures, check out