WXXI AM News

Food pantry at MCC helps students get by

Feb 13, 2018

Credit MCC

In his 2018 State of the State address, Governor Andrew Cuomo suggested putting food pantries on all SUNY and CUNY campuses.

In a report cited in his address done at campuses nationwide, 48% of survey respondents experienced food insecurity within the last month.

Ambika Howell is the Wellness Coordinator at Monroe Community College and says they have seen an increase in recent years of students coming to student services asking for assistance with food issues.

"Not only do you have a full caseload of classes to tend to and homework, you have to help your family do homework, kids attending school as well, but also now you have to think of a job. And be able to have that income come in. So it is a struggle to balance that."

Howell works to refer students to both external and internal resources.

One of those internal initiatives is the Single Stop program, which lets students enter data into an online application and connects them with any area organization that can help them based on needs.

The Dreamkeepers program also offers grants of up to $500 to those students who find themselves in emergency situations.

Howell says their DWIGHT Food Pantry travels to both campuses, and allows students to shop from it once a month.

"We want to make sure that our students feel welcomed and feel comfortable coming in to get food, and don't feel like we're going to judge them or label them."

DWIGHT stands for Doing What Is Good and Healthy Together.

Howell says it is their goal to get rid of the stigma that surrounds food insecurity.

"I've had professors come to me and say you know after speaking to a student who was irate in class for some odd reason, when they pulled them aside and spoke to them they found out that this person hadn’t eaten breakfast, they hadn’t eaten in two days."

New York State would be the first state to require every public campus to have a food pantry.