“When I’m hungry, I can’t…” How would you complete that phrase? For the students of Washington County Community College, the answers almost always referred to being unable to think clearly or to losing their social composure. Without adequate nutrition, successfully learning and absorbing information becomes a significantly more challenging task. To raise awareness of hunger on campus—and to help offset it—the students, staff and faculty of WCCC held a Hunger Awareness week in the second week of October.
The week included several activities for students to participate in. The first was a “Free bake” organized by students Rachel Cox, Ray Brewton, and Human Services instructor Elizabeth Sullivan. Several homemade baked goods were offered at no cost to passing students. “We did a survey here last year and found that a lot of students were coming to school hungry or they were having hunger issues at home whether they lived at home or on campus,” Cox explained. “I was heartbroken when I read some of the surveys.”
Another point illustrated by the surveys was that there is a lack of recognition of the available resources, including the student food pantry on campus. During the Free Bake, a resource list was offered to all students and over $100 was raised for the student pantry.
“Part of this is to start that conversation that even if you yourself aren’t hungry, you can still reach out to others that are,” Cox said. She explained that everyone has the ability to contribute in some way or another—whether by donated canned goods, money, or their particular talent. Student Ray Brewton loves to cook, so offering baked goods was a natural fit for him. On another night of the week, a comedy night featuring Brian Giles was held—with all proceeds going directly to the student food pantry.
Students also had the benefit of enjoying fresh baked potatoes from Aroostook County as part of a potato bar that included two kinds of chili and all the fixings, and later in the week they were able to participate in a “Soup Kitchen”. Faculty and staff of WCCC brought in dish after dish of homemade foods to share at no cost with anyone who wished to try them. “I really enjoyed watching the students interact with each other as they enjoyed all of the different soups, breads, rolls and sweets,” WCCC President Joe Cassidy said of the event.
Donations to the student food pantry are accepted on an ongoing basis. To make a donation, drop it off in the front office or contact Karen Gookin at 454-1054.