BANGOR – With help from a generous donor, Eastern Maine Community College is offering its students a solution to food insecurity.
Having access to affordable and nutritious food can be a struggle, especially for students juggling school work and jobs. According to the Good Shepard Food Bank of Maine’s website, 13.6 percent of the state’s households are food insecure.
“We know that when we put food here, it’s utilized,” said EMCC Student Navigator Brian Welsh. “So we’re concerned.”
EMCC’s food pantry has been open inside the Student Success Center since the fall, and it’s only grown. A new freezer and refrigerator have been added thanks to funding from the John T. Gorman Foundation.
“This process has been two plus years,” said Welsh. “Our leadership has been fantastic. We want to do it right and we want to have a safe food pantry that’s well stocked and well run.”
Student volunteers are keeping the pantry organized and spreading the word.
“Everyone gets hungry, and if you can’t afford it then it’s good to have something to get you through the day,” said EMCC student Daniel Spurgeon.
Students are encouraged to take what they need and leave what they can. The main hope is for more students to use the pantry.
“I was a little bit shy to come and get the food,” said student Jean Toussaint. “However, this is truly important for all the students and beneficial for all the students because there are students who might not have the money to buy lunch or breakfast.”
Tutor Amanda Hamblen says she sees a lot of students going hungry.
If they’re hungry I can tell a lot of the time,” said Hamblen. “If they don’t have a lot of money I can also tell that. So I‘ll offer. I’ll say ‘hey there’s a pantry out here, you can go, let’s go together’.”
The food pantry is donation based now, but volunteers are looking for a sponsor to keep up with the need.