Community College of Phila. expands food pantry to help hungry students

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Community College of Philadelphia launches program to help end hunger - Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 5pm on November 27, 2017. (WPVI)

$5,000 grant for refrigeration, nutrition education
More and more colleges are recognizing that they aren't immune from the issue of hunger.

Last year's"Hunger on Campus" national report says it's driving some students to choose between classes and food.

It's happening at the Community College of Philadelphia.

The goal is to end hunger there, so students can concentrate more on their education.

Twice a week, Jenavia Weaver, Verna Gillins or other volunteers from the Student Government Association form a small assembly line, creating snack packs at the Winnett Student Center.

They're built to tide over hungry students.

"There is nothing like having a student whose stomach is out-growling the voice of your professor, " says Gillins, 2nd Vice-President of the SGA.

A student survey two years ago shows at any given time, about 100 CCP students aren't sure where their next meal is coming from.

Others lack secure homes - one student with a 4.0 GPA was discovered to be sleeping in Logan Circle.
And other students slept there, too.

With the help of food donations, the Student Government Association created the Snack Racks at 10 locations around campus.

The need at Community College of Philadelphia may be greater than other schools, because students are older, and often trying to study AND raise families only with part-time jobs.

"We know if they're hungry again that means their children are hungry, their spouses are hungry, their partners, etc.," says Weaver, coordinator at the Student Leadership and Involvement Center.

So the program expanded; student leaders asked for more donations and also opened a food pantry.

"Now we want things like spaghetti and spaghetti sauce and you know mashed potatoes - things that are non-perishable, canned goods," says Weaver.

And thanks to a $5,000-dollar grant from the Leo and Peggy Pierce Family Foundation, the pantry is expanding, getting refrigeration for fruits and vegetables, to provide more healthy choices.
"We're trying to help our students be as healthy mentally, physically as they possibly can," says Gillins.

They say as they expand the program, they're hoping to also educate students about the benefits of eating healthy foods, and the positive impact it can have overall.

The pantry provides packaged snacks, such as granola bars, dried fruits and nuts, fruit cups, and other non-perishable items.

All food items are donated by students, faculty and staff.

The Student Government Association is currently working on partnering with local grocers and supermarkets that would be able to provide food, and have also reached out to faith-based organizations to provide items to the pantry.

The SGA is seeking donations to buy a refrigerator, or hopes someone might donate one.

For information, contact the Student Leadership and Involvement Center at 215-751-8212.

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