By: Hannah Keyes
The Pantry located at the Trenton campus of Mercer County Community College has been working to serve food insecure college students since opening in late 2019. The motivation for the creation of The Pantry has been the passion to combat the growing hunger problem seen on many college campuses including
The mission statement of The Pantry is “to alleviate the barriers and challenges associated with food insecurity and hunger so that Mercer’s students can remain in school and, ultimately, earn their degrees.” Education is often seen as the main avenue to improving the quality of life for those who have grown up below the poverty line. However, the stressors associated with food insecurity can affect student success in many ways. Stressors such as money, grades, motivation, the capability to pay attention, and to balance school, work, and personal life can prove to be extraordinarily difficult. In the end, such factors can affect how long it takes for someone to obtain their degree. After all, the more time one spends in school, the more money they have to pay: debt being yet another obstacle in the way of improving one’s quality of life that would compound on top of being food insecure. Every year college education costs increase and students are forced to live on a hardly liveable budget.
According to College & University Food Bank Alliance (CUFBA) 30% of college students are food insecure and 56% of food-insecure students are working. In a food access survey of 50 MCCC students, half said that they had gone hungry because they didn’t have money for food and 41% said they had qualified for state or federal food assistance programs. The COVID-19 pandemic has further worsened the issues for these college students. The Pantry at MCCC has taken steps to try to best address this issue and help their students. They encourage students to check their eligibility for food assistance through New Jersey’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP is a federal program that can help individuals and families with low incomes buy the groceries they need to eat healthily.
The Pantry is working to help students as much as possible through its food distribution. According to an article from the MCCC school newspaper, The VOICE, MCCC student, Jennifer Famularo, who had received help through the food pantry said, “when times were rough, the college was able to provide some food so I could continue to study.”
The Pantry is located on the James Kerney Campus in room KC403. It is open Monday–Thursday 10:00 am–3:00 pm during the fall and spring semesters of college operations. To contact The Pantry, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are not an MCCC student but still need access to food, The Pantry offers a listing of local food sources here. The MCCC Pantry is always looking for donations, please use this link to donate