WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. — College can be a great place to learn new skills, but not if you’re hungry.
Century College and the White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf together opened an on-campus food pantry recently to provide students immediate help and connect them with local resources for permanent solutions – all with cutting-edge technology to ensure the process is quick, easy and confidential.
Last year, the faculty at Century College noticed something startling: All their candy dishes were empty. “We see more and more students whose basic needs are not being met,” said Linda Baughman-Terry, chair of the school’s Counseling Department. After meeting with a student who was a single mother, Baughman-Terry decided to replace her candy with granola bars. She put a note next to the dish: “Please Help Yourself.” Word got out among students and the snacks were gone within 90 minutes.
In October, Jill Greenhalgh, executive director of the Century College Foundation, started talking with Baughman-Terry about students’ food needs and contacted Ann Searles, executive director of the White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf. After many meetings and conversations with students, faculty and staff – plus a visit to the Normandale Community College Food Pantry in Bloomington, Minnesota – a decision was made: Century College would take the leap, with the assistance of the White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf, to create its own on-campus food pantry to help struggling students in need of meals and snacks.
Century College’s food pantry opened March 26 and will be open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., in Room 1010 on West Campus. Current students who are facing financial difficulties will be able to take home a bag of nutritious food at least once a month and will be connected with other community resources for help with longer-term solutions. The pantry’s ordering, tracking and student registration will be managed by innovative software provided by the White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf.
“Our mission is to provide food and support to our neighbors in need, in partnership with the communities of White Bear. It just makes sense that we help Century set up a food pantry because of our successes and expertise,” Searles said.
Greenhalgh has already raised $5,000 to start the food pantry, but another $5,000 is needed. “Our community is one that truly cares about the needs of our neighbors. And it is gratifying to help someone who is already on a path to helping themself, which is true of our students.”
The pantry will be operated by Judy Lykins, who directs the Service Learning program at Century College; her students will staff it. “To have this resource on campus just makes so much sense. It’s hard to learn when you’re hungry; you can’t concentrate,” Lykins said.
Alison Schram, operations manager for the White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf, will set up and implement the processes and procedures for operation of the Century College food pantry.
Century College has more than 12,000 students, 50 percent of which are Pell-grant eligible, coming from households at or below the poverty level.
The White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf was established in 1977 and served more than 10,400 individuals last year.
For more information or how to support the Century College food pantry, please call Jill Greenhalgh at 651-779-3338 or go to www.century.edu/foundation or call Ann Searles at 651-407-5310 or go towww.whitebearfoodshelf.org.