By Nicole Quigley – Collegiate Staff
After the results of a survey revealed issues of hunger and homelessness at Grand Rapids Community College, a leadership team decided to take action.
In January, GRCC’s Strategic Leadership Team (SLT) joined a national survey addressing these two issues. The SLT found out that 45 percent of GRCC students said they were “food insecure,” 35 percent said they felt “housing insecure,” and 9 percent said for at least one night “they were homeless.”
“Now, it is easy to see that all these issues are related,” said Lina Blair, Director of Student Life and Conduct. “Which means the big picture issue is addressing the two questions: When students are hungry? And how can they be successful in the classroom with these issues?”
In an effort to work with the results from the SLT and the Dean of Counseling, a committee was formed: the Student Food, Housing, and Security Committee. The first is the Student Food Pantry. It is located in the Student Center and operates the same hours as the Office of Student Life and Conduct. This pantry provides non-perishable items.
And the pantry doesn’t just contain food, but also basic necessities for the students and their families.
Another option, which is the newest addition to this program, is the snack bar “grab ’n go” box located in Sneden Hall and on the third floor of the Student Center.
“This is a really good option for students who are in a rush, and just need something quick,” Blair said.
The various food items are things like granola bars, chips, or popcorn. Quick microwavable items that can be heated up in the school microwaves are also available. From ramen noodles, to easy mac, to soup, there are many options that can satisfy students for an actual meal rather than just a snack.
The main reason this snack bar was added was due to the fact that the survey results led the SLT to believe that limited access to food may be adversely affecting students’ academic performance.
In order to receive the benefits of the Student Food Pantry, students need to apply. Students must apply online to receive non-perishable items. On the pantry’s website, there is more information on how to apply and the next steps to take to start helping this great new program. The program lists many items on the website that are in high demand at the moment, however more items are always accepted. However, for the Snack Bar, students do not have to sign up. Students can just walk up to the area and take whatever they made need.
Blair said she would like to see this issue become a “cross-campus effort” and hopes to see a lot of community members get involved.
“GRCC is a leader in having a food options for students and I think we should spread the word to help it get more use,” Blair said.