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WELLESLEY HILLS, Mass. (April 23, 2020) — MassBay Community College’s Student Nourishment and Care Committee (SNACC) has awarded 70 students with meal cards totaling $23,280 for the spring 2020 semester as part of the 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 in the fall 2019 semester to 48 students, offering cards totaling $15,000. MassBay’s SNACC committee is dedicated 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 a 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 enrolled in at least one class and 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 eliminate current barriers to accessing food on campus. Applications are reviewed by a SNACC sub-committee. There were more than 150 applications submitted in February 2020. The scholarships are typically given to the awarded students via a weekly meal card that can be used in the Wellesley and Framingham cafeterias, however due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, students are receiving Amazon grocery cards to use while studying remotely. Funds for this program are distributed based on the number of credits for which a student is enrolled.
One student who participates in the meal program explains, “This is a great program. I always skip eating because I just don’t have the extra funds to eat. I have three children and getting them feed, packed up, and off to school every day is hard enough, so I typically go without. I am a big advocate of this program and I tell other students to be on the lookout if they need assistance.”
The Meal Scholarship Program Data:
Another student who participates in the meal scholarship program describes the program this way, “I think this is an amazing program and I am so appreciative that I was selected as a recipient. As a single mom of four, I try so hard to make sure that my kids have what they need before I do. This includes meals, when I serve them before myself, and sometimes there’s only enough for them. During these times it’s very tough, but thankfully, this program was there to help me. Each day I was at school, I knew I would be okay and could focus less on the stress and anxiety of finances and availability of food, and instead focus more on my goal of getting through my schoolwork and doing well in my classes. Thank you so much for the support!”
Another participating student, Alicia, is also grateful for the program. “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 anything away from my kids’ food stamps. Before this program came along, 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 so I can make other students aware of it and may not know they are eligible.”
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 can take frozen prepackaged meals home; free grab-and-go snack bins located 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 global 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 are 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 $10,000 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/giveTo 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.