As the risk of food insecurity among college students is on the rise, Stop & Shop is taking steps to fight back locally with continued support for the Housatonic Community College (HCC) School Food Pantry. The supermarket giant recently donated an additional $10,000 to assist the HCC food pantry in helping food-insecure students with nutritious food options and basic necessities so they can stay focused on their education.
Last year, Stop & Shop provided a $5,000 gift to initiate the HCC School Food Pantry. At that time, when remote learning was in place, just over 30 students per month accessed the resource. Today, when roughly 50% of classes are taught on-campus, over 125 students per month access the Food Pantry and the pantry’s mobile fresh food offerings. Stop & Shop also provides students with nutrition education and other resources through its Nutrition Partners program, led by Stop & Shop’s team of registered dietitians.
“This increased use of HCC’s Food Pantry clearly demonstrates the need for continued food supply, and the success of this resource on campus,” said Kristy Jelenik, Executive Director of the Housatonic Community College Foundation.
For college students, food insecurity can challenge their ability to reach educational and professional goals. Hunger affects a student’s ability to concentrate, causes grades to suffer and is linked to students taking a longer time to graduate.
“Many in our communities continue to face challenges associated with hunger as a result of the ongoing impact of COVID-19,” said Maura O’Brien, Stop & Shop Manager of Community Relations. “Students face a unique set of difficulties and lessening the burden of food insecurity as we enter the holidays will help HCC students to focus on their education and their future. Stop & Shop is proud to continue assisting the Housatonic Community College on-campus food pantry, helping to ensure students have access to food to help them succeed in their studies and life outside of the classroom.”
Last month, HCC expanded its Food Pantry hours to meet the growing demand, and also teamed up with the college’s Student Senate to provide Thanksgiving meal bags to 100 students. Each thermal bag was filled with holiday dinner staples such as turkeys, potatoes, carrots, and apples.
“HCC does an amazing job making food accessible to students. As a student who works full time while going to school full time, it really helps a lot,” said Susie Romirez of Fairfield, CT.
“This grant support is vital, and as the pandemic has exacerbated student hunger, our vulnerable scholars need this food resource now more than ever. We are grateful to Stop & Shop for their continued support,” said Jelenik.