College coursework presents a challenge to a student living in a comfortable environment. The challenge is magnified when the student lacks money or even a regular food supply.
Faculty and staff of Northeast State Community College endeavored to help students in need of food assistance through a pilot project with a regional food bank. The College’s Student Needs Project partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank as a destination for their Mobile Food Pantry to serve to students. Staff and student volunteers organized the first food deliveries made to the main campus on April 19 and designated for 45 in-need students.
“We hope to bring the mobile food pantry to the main campus once per month beginning in the fall semester,” said Raylene Steward, with Student Support Services TRiO Program at Northeast State. “The only qualification they need to have is being an enrolled Northeast State student.”
A $5 donation from a pantry partner provides a student with 40 pounds of food. Donations are solicited from individuals across campus not from students in need. Faculty and staff members donated funds to cover the truck’s fuel costs and charges on this first trip.
Steward initiated the project as an assignment for a graduate level course she is taking at East Tennessee State University. She contacted Second Harvest about the mobile food pantry earlier this spring.
The mobile food pantry vehicle delivers perishable and non-perishable foods to participating organizations. The vehicle used by Second Harvest was provided through the “American Idol” television show’s charitable efforts.
“The need is there because our faculty talks to students and hears their stories every semester,” said David Haga, instructor of Mathematics and coordinator of the Student Needs Project. “Raylene did a fantastic job so we hope this is just the beginning of what we can do for students.”
Haga took the helm of the Student Needs Project last fall during the Because of You fundraising campaign launched by the Northeast State Foundation. He said the project aimed to offer food assistance for up to 60 students once each month during seven months of the 2013-2014 academic year. He added the Northeast State at Kingsport and Elizabethton sites could be added as delivery points this fall.
“For many of our students, an education is the only way they have to get to a better life,” said Haga. “We are striving to keep them in class by helping meet those needs beyond the classroom.”