WELLESLEY HILLS, Mass. (November 19, 2019) — MassBay Community College’s Student Nourishment and Care Committee (SNACC) has awarded 48 students with meal cards totaling $15,000 for the fall 2019 semester, as part of the new Meal Scholarship Program. Launched as a pilot program in March 2019, The MassBay Meal Scholarship Program first awarded 29 students’ meal cards totaling $2,430 before it was expanded this semester. As a committee, SNACC is committed to helping students overcome food insecurity to ensure their academic goals can be attained.
“Students cannot focus on their studies if they are hungry, if their blood sugar is low, if they are worried about where their next meal is coming from, or if they are worried about whether they can feed their children,” said MassBay President Dr. David Podell. “The SNACC committee is working to eliminate this barrier, because we know lack of basic needs can derail a student’s goals. This initiative is an important step to eliminate student hunger on our campuses.”
To be eligible for the Food Scholarship Program, students needed to be full- or part-time status who have completed the Food Scholarship Application. The application requires students to submit a written personal statement on how this would support their academic goals and is reviewed by a blind SNACC sub-committee. There were more than 250 applications submitted in September 2019. The scholarships are given to the awarded students via a weekly meal card that can be used in the Wellesley and Framingham cafeterias. Funds for this program are distributed based on the number of credits in which a student is enrolled.
One student, Lexi, who participates in the meal program explains, “meal assistance has always been part of my life due to my family’s financial status. Now that I am a college student, I’m even more independent with my expenses, which requires me to work more frequently. Between being dedicated to school and extracurricular activities, I’m limited in my ability to work longer hours so I can only cover certain expenses, including my car to be able to attend school. The income I make during the year makes it difficult to purchase balanced meals, affecting my physical health.”
The Meal Scholarship Program Data:
- Spring 2019 (March – May)
- 29 students received meal cards, totaling $2,430 and 230 meals
- In the student feedback form following the conclusion of spring 2019 semester;
- 63% of the recipients who responded said the “food through this program significantly impacted their academic performance.”
- 81% of the recipients who responded said the “food through this program had a significant impact on their ability to concentrate.”
- 88% of the recipients who responded said “they would be interested in reapplying for the meal scholarship program for the fall if offered.” 12% responded no to reapplying because they were transferring to 4-year colleges.
- Fall 2019 (September – December)
- 48 students received meal cards, totaling $15,000
- Of the 48 students, 37 students are on the Wellesley campus, nine are on the Framingham campus, and two are from the Ashland Automotive Technology Center
- 29 of the students are full-time and 19 are part-time status
- 138 students completed the Food Scholarship Application
Another student who participates in the meal scholarship program, Alicia describes the program this way; “I am a single mother of three and SNAP assistance helps feed my kids. I was lucky to be part of this scholarship last semester and it helped me be able to eat. I was able to have lunch and not worry about taking from my kids food stamps. Before this program, I would just skip meals so I wouldn’t take away from their food money. While I was hungry, it was hard for me to think straight during classes. I am a huge promoter of this program to bring awareness to other students who might not know they are eligible for this program.”
SNACC is a group of staff, faculty, students, and community volunteers who are dedicated to eliminating basic need barriers that are obstacles to student success. After recognizing students were hungry on campus, the group started in 2015 as the Food Insecurity Committee and began holding monthly Mobile Markets to give all students, faculty, and staff access to free, fresh food. The committee quickly grew its initiatives to include MassBay Meals, where students take frozen prepackaged meals home; free grab-and-go snack bins in high-traffic areas on campus; Food for Thought, incorporating food into reorganized study sessions on campus; and the Student Hunger Assistance Fund. During the process of organizing the programs, the SNACC members expanded the initiatives to include basic needs, including receiving and distributing hygiene products and a take-one-or-leave-one, ongoing coat drive.
MassBay Vice President of Student Development and Dean of Students, Dr. Liz Blumberg adds, “If we genuinely believe that the students of today are the leaders, the citizens, the professionals, the managers of tomorrow, then why would we allow food insecurity to derail their development? Higher education by its very nature is forward looking. At MassBay, we are looking to the future but we also see a very real problem in the lives of our students today. Hunger and anxiety about basic needs is eroding the future of many of our students and we must attack this problem directly. All the donations we receive go directly toward helping students put aside food insecurity and focus, instead, on their intellectual, moral, and civic development. That's the future.”
The MassBay Meal Scholarship Program was funded through generous donations from private funding for the spring 2019 and fall 2019 semesters. An anonymous donation of $15,000 was given to MassBay by a MetroWest business, as well as $5,000 by the MassBay Student Hunger Assistance Fund.
To donate to the Student Hunger Assistance Fund visit www.massbay.edu/give
To learn more about at MassBay’s SNACC initiatives visit www.massbay.edu
MassBay Community College is ranked by the Brookings Institution as one of the top schools for value added and earned salaries in the workforce. Ranked #1 for two-year colleges in Massachusetts, #2 in New England, and #16 nationally. The College’s facilities in Wellesley Hills, Framingham, and Ashland house day, evening and weekend classes that meet the needs of degree-seeking students and career minded life-long learners. Online options provide convenience and allow faculty to facilitate the learning process. Since its founding in 1961, MassBay has been accredited by several governing bodies and strives to meet the needs of the diverse local communities it serves.