By Carly Thompson
Editor In Chief
The Kansas Board of Regents has identified that food insecurity is an issue among college students. About 40 percent of college students lack consistent access to food.
More often than not, students have a limited amount of income and have to make sacrifices. When students have to choose between putting gas in their car to get to class or food, education is no longer a priority.
Hutchinson Community College received a grant in the spring 2023 semester to purchase items for a food pantry. Debra Graber, counselor at HutchCC, has played a big role in organizing the food pantry.
“Not only does food affect their success today, tomorrow, or this semester, but it may affect whether or not they are able to complete a program. It is very much a part of the foundation of a college education,” Graber said.
The food pantry will be in Rimmer Learning Resource Center on the main campus. When the library is open, the pantry will be accessible. There will be food as well as personal care products, feminine care products, bedding, towels, laundry detergent, school supplies, child care products, and more.
The grant does not require students to meet any eligibility requirements to benefit from the pantry. Any student who needs something, is welcome. The point of the food pantry is to help with basic needs. Students can take the items with them or use them on campus.
As of right now, the program is based on the honor system. Students are asked to take into consideration others in need when they choose items from the pantry.
Graber said she hopes to help as many students as possible.
“My basic premise is, if they’re hungry we feed them,” Graber said.
Student workers in the Student Success Center take an hour during their shift to help restock and manage the food pantry. Callie Linder, sophomore from Hope, is one who helps.
“The food pantry makes me feel as though I am helping make some people’s lives easier,” Linser said.
It is also a great opportunity to see firsthand how basic necessities can impact a student’s life. Sierra Wilson, Coldwater sophomore, is majoring in social work and loves the fact that she is able to be involved in something that helps students make ends meet.
“My favorite part about being involved is knowing that it’s going to help so many students and I get to be a part of that,” Wilson said.
While the food pantry is making headway, there is only a limited amount of supplies. The grant money had to be spent by June 15, with specific restrictions on what the college was allowed to purchase. The money could not be used on storage or refrigerators for food or supplies. To get around these challenges, HutchCC has made connections with local businesses.
Smith’s Market will be providing fresh produce to help stock the shelves. Kelbe McGill keeps statistics on the supplies to see what students are in most need of. She is able to give feedback to Smith’s in order to get produce better fit for the students’ needs.
Jackson Meat will be putting together 100 meat bundles to give away once a month. These will be first come first serve.
As for the future, the staff working on the food pantry hopes to make further connections in the community and possibly have food drives to contribute.