Presque Isle – After attending the Universities Fighting World Hunger summit last March, NMCC Student Navigator Ashley Hall and senior business student Lacie LeGassie felt inspired to apply for a grant from the Maine Campus Compact in an effort to battle food insecurity on campus. This September they were awarded funding to create 86 “24-hour Meal Packs,” which are now available to students in need, and will receive additional funds in December.
The packs provide students with a full day’s worth of non-perishable food, including three meals and two snacks, with the goal of supporting students’ nutrition in an effort to help them academically. “College students who are unable to access food are also at risk for declining health and academic issues,” Hall explained.
Recent national surveys revealed that approximately 48% of two-year college students experienced different levels of food insecurity. To raise awareness about this issue the Maine Community College System initiated the “Brains Need Food” campaign across all seven campuses.
The food for the meal packs were purchased with assistance from Josh Tweedie, president/owner of Tweedie Inc., which operates Hillside IGA, Mars Hill IGA, and Star City IGA.
In addition to the meal packs, Hall is working with other community resources to provide education on healthy eating on a budget as well as information sessions on how the Department of Health and Human Services can help support longer-term needs impacting food security. “DHHS representatives will be coming to campus to give information sessions on SNAP/MaineCare, and SNAP-Ed has provided booklets that include meal planning and budgeting that I can share with students. This will all take place in the coming academic year.”
In other efforts to prevent food insecurity NMCC has offered the Little Free Food Cart for the past two years. The food cart is located in the NMCC library and stocked with non-perishable items, available year-round.
The 24-hour Meal Packs are available to students either through the library circulation desk or through any of the school counselors.