WELLESLEY – MassBay Community College’s Student Development Office conducted an on-line survey of enrolled students to determine if students had food insecurity and found that more than half (52%) who participated in the survey reported “low” or “very low” food security.
This statistic is comparable to the results of a national study of community college students conducted by The Wisconsin Hope Lab called “Hunger and Homelessness in College”, which found 56% of students reported “low” or “very low” levels of food security.
Students were classified as “low” or “very low” food security if they reported at least two of the following during the past 30 days:
· Food that was purchased didn’t last and they didn’t have money to purchase more
· They could not afford to eat balanced meals
· Students were cutting the size of meals or skipped meals because there wasn’t enough money or food
· They were eating less because they felt there wasn’t enough money or food
· Students were hungry, but didn’t eat because there wasn’t enough money or food
MassBay held the food insecurity survey in the Spring 2017 semester after hearing some students having a lack of food or going hungry and wanted to explore how many students were affected. The responses were collected from 308 MassBay students and showed differences in food insecurity by subgroup: 55% of women, 75% of Black or African American students, and 62% of students who took classes on the Framingham campus had food insecurity.
To fight hunger on our campuses, the Student Development Office and many college wide departmental offices has spearheaded food insecurity initiatives to ensure members of the MassBay community have access to food while on campus. These initiatives include;
- Since Spring 2016, MassBay partnered with The Greater Boston Food Bank to host a monthly mobile food market with free fresh fruits and vegetables. This farmer’s market style food distribution is located on the Wellesley campus, and students on the Ashland and Framingham campuses can pre-register and the food will be brought to those campuses for them. This has benefitted more than 2,648 students, faculty and staff since it came to campus.
- Snack bins have been placed in Student Development, Athletics, Advising and Financial Aid on the Wellesley Hills campus, offering free, sustainable snack options to all students. The snack bins are also in Advising and Student Development on the Framingham campus.
- The Student Development Office, Student Government Association and the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences held a student essay contest around hunger issues. The two winners of the contest will join Student Development staff in attending the National Convening on College Food and Housing Insecurity Conference in Philadelphia later this month.
By providing this support on-campus, the hope is to eliminate a stigma surrounding food insecurity, give access to healthy food options and eliminate a potential barrier for college success.
MassBay has also started a Student Hunger Assistance Fund, where individuals can make a donation to the MassBay Foundation and their contribution will go directly to helping students have access to food. To make a donation visit; https://donate.massbay.
MassBay Community College was recently ranked by the Brookings Institution as one of the top schools for value added and earned salaries in the workforce. Ranked #1 for 2-year colleges in Massachusetts, #2 in New England and ranked #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.