Food insecurity touches more folks than most would realize, including college students. Northern Maine Community College is trying to address the problem with what officials are calling their Little Free Food Cart, which recently received a $500 investment from Maine Campus Connect and Maine Cooperative Extension.
The Maine Hunger Dialogue mini-grant will help stock the cart, which NMCC Student Navigator Maureen Connell said is needed and appreciated.
“For NMCC students, this will hopefully help to continue to alleviate some of the food insecurity that many of them face,” she said. “The Little Free Food Cart is often emptied quickly whenever it’s stocked with food/snacks. This is evidence that students are taking advantage of available food that might otherwise contribute to financial hardship.”
Connell said she was inspired to write the grant after talking to a downstate community college official, who had success with a similar project, and on campus with Gail Roy, Assistant Dean of Learning Resources.
“According to the October 2016 report, Hunger on Campus, The Challenge of Food Insecurity for College Students, food insecurity (the lack of reliable access to sufficient quantities of affordable, nutritious food) remains common at colleges and universities across the country. NMCC is no exception,” said William Egeler, Dean of Students. “We are hopeful that with the assistance provided by this mini-grant, our students will have ready access to area food resources both on the campus and throughout the County.”
Connell says 66% of NMCC’s matriculated students are Pell Grant eligible which is an indication of a student’s financial need and warrants having a service like the Little Free Food Cart.
Her next goal is to find ways to make the project sustainable, whether collaborating with student organizations, looking for additional assistance, or an undiscovered idea she will brainstorm with her colleagues. Already, additional donations of food have come in from Save-A-Lot and the Caribou High School National Honor Society.
“Every little bit helps,” she said. “These are small measures that have big impact. It’s nice to have the support.”