June 24, 2018
Conversations are happening nationwide around the topic of student food insecurity. The idea is not lost that students’ basic needs must be met before we can expect them to persist. Rochester Community and Technical College (RCTC) is not new to this discussion. The campus currently operates two satellite food pantries which continue to expand in offerings including personal hygiene and daily use products. The food pantries were renamed in the fall of 2017 to Hive Supply which is a play on words to align with the Yellowjacket mascot. Hive Supply is more encompassing of all the products offered (in addition to food) and is also meant to break down an initial barrier of shame for students going to the locations or hearing about it on campus. Usage continues to increase as students can visit once per week and take up to 15 items.
The 2017-2018 RCTC Student Senate leadership made it their mission to “Feed the Kids” as the Student President would say. After reviewing the Wisconsin Hope Labs report indicating that 56% of Community College students are experiencing food insecurity and noticing that a number of students on the RCTC campus were struggling to obtain basic sustenance, the Student Senate made a resolution to allocate $20,000 towards food initiatives. This funding was taken from a fund balance of unused student fees collected over the years. The breakdown of allocations included: $5,000 to chartered student clubs to promote and serve food at open houses to educate students about their club, $5,000 to promote and serve food at the on-campus Learning Center, and $10,000 to provide snack bins in various areas of campus and weekly hot meals to students on campus.
Focus on these efforts will not be declining anytime soon. RCTC is working to establish a meal plan option for students to purchase through financial aid awards or personally. Despite not having on-campus residence halls, meal plans can still play a critical role in insuring students know they have hot meals to depend on each week. The incoming Student Senate leadership will continue to examine the campus needs regarding food and establish their platform in the fall. The Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management is continuing talks on how to best provide additional resources to students on and off campus and continue to address the issue of food insecurity at RCTC.
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