By Joshua Cowden
Food insecurity is a real issue for college students across the nation, and PPCC is going above and beyond to try and help change the situation, last month introducing the food bank that is open to students once a month.
In partnership with Care & Share and run by Professors Tiko Hardy and Ann Marie Manning, the first PPCC mobile food drive was held on Monday, Sept. 18, and successfully gave away over 4500 pounds of food.
This week, the Mobile Pantry returned (Oct. 16), giving away over 10,000 pounds–more than double the previous haul–to students in need.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food insecurity is “a condition of someone who does not have adequate resources to feed themselves.”
Whether it be from the lack of funds in their current situation or the inability to cook a nutritional meal, on average 10%- 15% of the students nationwide are struggling with food insecurity.
Food insecurity becomes even more critical when students become homeless.
Urban Peak, a community outreach mission, does its best to help displaced youth, many of whom attend classes at PPCC. Their mission statement reads, “Urban Peak Colorado Springs ignites the potential in youth to exit homelessness and create self-determined, fulfilled lives. Our shelter, street outreach and housing programs reach approximately 600 youth annually in the Pikes Peak Region.”
Manning opened up about the importance of projects like the Mobile Food Pantry and organizations like Urban Peak, underscoring just how bad the food insecurity issue has become.
She says, “41% of Pikes Peak Community College students are eligible for Pell grants. This does not include the percentage of students that receive some other type of financial aid. And 65% of our PPCC students are a primary caregiver to at least one person (child or adult).”
Jade Moreno, a current student at PPCC studying Early Childhood Development said, “I currently work two jobs on top of going to school, just so I can provide everything I need. Between school fees, rent, car payments, and insurance, food falls near the bottom of the list and is practically forgotten in the bills.”
Another problem that exacerbates food insecurity, according to Manning, is that there is a stigma in our culture when it comes to asking for help. Americans, she said, often like to come off as independent human beings and tend to avoid asking for assistance or help in any way, especially if they are made to feel inferior because they need help.
“I have already heard from students who received food at the first food drive that they were criticized by other people for receiving this food,” Manning said.
Huffington Post writer David Steele-Figueredo expounds on the nationwide issue of college student food insecurity, saying, “The numbers are striking. Feeding America, a national nonprofit network of food banks … estimates that nearly half (49.3 percent) of its clients in college must choose between educational expenses (i.e., tuition, books and supplies, rent) and food annually, and that 21 percent did so for a full 12 months.” Read more here.
Another opportunity PPCC offers its hungry students is the ability to purchase food passes with their left-over financial aid. This is a great program for students struggling with food insecurity and in need of quick food options while on campus.
Clearly, food insecurity is a prevalent issue in our community, but events like the Mobile Food Pantry help.
With two successful events already thrown this year, the community is excited for what PPCC and Care & Share will have in place in the coming months. Many students have raved about the opportunity to gather food and are appreciative of the help they are able to receive. The Mobile Pantry can really make a difference in the lives of many of our students struggling to balance work, school and daily life all at once.
For more information contact Ann-Marie.Manning@ppcc.edu