MassBay Community College and the Rotary Club of Wellesley have joined efforts to combat food insecurity at the college. To launch this partnership, the two organizations will host a public community presentation: Food for Thought:  Fighting Student Hunger on College Campuses. 
This event, on December 3 in Wellesely, will include MBCC President Dr. David Podell (shown, below), who will speak about the negative impact of food insecurity on students at the local campus, the initiatives MassBay has put in place to help students, and how the public can help in this effort. The event is  free and open to the public.

 “MassBay conducted a student survey in 2017 and found 52 percent of the students who participated were experiencing food insecurity, which isn’t surprising given the national average of students facing food insecurity is 56 percent,” Dr. Podell says. “We know if students are worrying about their next meal, they cannot focus on their studies. If they are hungry, they won’t be able to concentrate. In other words, hunger impedes students’ academic success. We quickly began several initiatives on campus to help students have access to food, including snack bins for all students, access to frozen meals to take home, fresh fruits and vegetables at a monthly farmers market, and meal cards to our cafeteria. We are extremely grateful for the Wellesley Rotary’s support, because together we are stronger.”

In spring 2017, MassBay conducted a study and found that 52 percent of MassBay of its students experience food insecurity. To fight hunger on its campus, the MassBay Student Development Office in partnership with other college departments spearheaded the Student Nourishment and Care Committee, a program with various initiatives to ensure students’ access to food while on campus. The SNACC program hosts monthly Mobile Food Markets, provides Snack Bins available to all students, and supports a Student Hunger Assistant Fund. The goals are to eliminate the stigma surrounding food insecurity, give access to healthy food options, and eliminate barriers to college success.

This year, the Rotary Club of Wellesley is supporting this effort under its Supporting Our Youth program. The club’s goals are to raise awareness about this critical issue among Wellesley residents and the business community, and to secure funding for varied food-insecurity initiatives at MassBay. 

The Food for Thought presentation of December 3 is the first in a series of events geared towards fulfilling these two goals. The club has already a secured a matching Rotary District Grant and is pledging a percentage of the funds raised by Taste of Wellesley 2020 to go toward supporting additional food-insecurity initiatives.

Click here, to download the October 2016 report, Hunger On Campus: The Challenge of Food Insecurity for College Students, in PDF format.

At the time this study was conducted, there was only a handful of studies out there, focused mainly on one or two colleges. This study fielded surveys, conducted more interviews, and spoke with experts wherever they could be found. Eventually, in 2015, the Wisconsin HOPE Lab conducted the largest study of campus food insecurity to date, with more than 4,000 students at 10 community colleges around the nation participating. Among the results: One in five students surveyed had the very lowest levels of food security; and, 13 percent were homeless.