FRAMINGHAM – One in every two students at MassBay Community College do not have enough to eat every day. The College says this impacts their health and their ability to learn.
So today, March 28, MassBay Community College announced the launch of a collaboration with Cambridge-based Food For Free Program and Framingham-based Daniel’s Table, to supply meals to students who are experiencing food insecurity and hunger issues.
The Food For Free’s Family Meals program re-purposes edible surplus foods into single-serve meals for people with limited access to kitchens, living in shelters and temporary housing, or who experience hunger or food insecurity.
MassBay’s meal shipments from Food For Free will be re-purposed and made into prepared meals with food donations from Babson College, Bentley University, Olin College of Engineering, Wellesley College, and the Wellesley Public Schools.
Food For Free will coordinate the pickup of safe, unused food, package the ready-made meals, and freeze them for MassBay students.
The collaboration with Daniel’s Table, founded six years ago with the mission of ending hunger in Framingham, will provide frozen, restaurant-style meals to MassBay’s Framingham campus. Daniel’s Table re-purposes unused, donated food from farms, markets, and restaurants, to create gourmet meals that are frozen to extend shelf-life.
The ready-made meals on the Framingham campus are stored in a freezer, which has been donated by Daniel’s Table.
The Wellesley Hills campus freezer has been donated by Home Depot of Watertown, and MassBay. Roche Bros. Supermarkets has also generously donated shopping bags.
“We are so thankful to volunteers and community organizations, to Food For Free and Daniel’s Table, who are helping provide healthy meals for our students,” said MassBay Vice President of Student Development and Dean of Students Dr. Liz Blumberg. “We want our students to be able to succeed while in college, and part of their success needs to begin with our students being well nourished.”
“Since our founding in 1981, Food For Free has made it our mission to ensure that healthy, nutritious food is not wasted and is instead distributed to our neighbors experiencing food insecurity,” said Food For Free Executive Director Sasha Purpura. “Food For Free wants to meet people where they are. For students, that means bringing meals right to campus so that students can continue to focus on being students.”
“We are honored to be able to offer this program at MassBay and hope our efforts truly make a difference,” said Daniel’s Table Founder David Blais. “This initiative, in conjunction with other programs, is putting Daniel’s Table within a few years of reaching our goal of a food-secure Framingham and at the same time creating a nationwide model of food security for urban areas.”
MassBay’s Food For Free meal pick-up location will be the Wellesley Hills cafeteria on Wednesday’s and Thursdays between 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. and Daniel’s Table meal pick-up on the Framingham campus will be available on Mondays and Tuesdays between 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
In Spring 2017, MassBay conducted a college-wide Hunger and Homelessness Survey and learned that more than 52 percent of its students struggled with “low” or “very low” levels of food security.
This statistic is comparable to a national study of community college students conducted by The Wisconsin Hope Lab called “Hunger and Homelessness in College. Since then, staff and volunteers from across the college and the local community have been collaborating to come up with solutions to increase student access to fresh, nutritious food.
In October 2017 Wellesley’s 3R Working Group, which consists of representatives from the Wellesley Department of Public Works, the Sustainable Energy Committee, and the Natural Resources Commission, initiated a project to increase food donation and recovery within the local K-12 schools and area colleges, with the end goal of donating the food to Food For Free. They reached out to the Wellesley Public Schools and colleges and universities, located in or near Wellesley, for donations. Currently, the Babson College, Bentley University, Olin College of Engineering, Wellesley College, and the Wellesley Public Schools help produce more than 20,000 meals for Food for Free.
“When Wellesley Town officials were organizing the program to rescue surplus food from our public schools and local colleges, we reached out to MassBay Community College and it quickly became apparent that they needed to be a recipient rather than a donor,” said Vice President of the Town of Wellesley Sustainable Energy Committee Ellen Korpi. “We are thrilled to close this loop so that locally rescued food is being repurposed for local needs.”
MassBay also launched the following food security initiatives for our students:
- The creation of a Food Insecurity Committee, made up of MassBay students, faculty and staff and local members of the community.
- A partnership with The Greater Boston Food Bank to host a monthly mobile market food pantry with free fresh fruits and vegetables. This farmer’s market style food distribution is located on the Wellesley Hills campus, and students on the Ashland and Framingham campuses can pre-register and the food will be brought to those campuses. To-date this has already benefitted more than 2,648 students, faculty and staff.
- The “Food for Thought” pilot program is a combination of an on campus study groups with free meals to ensure students are getting academic support and nutrition.
- Created a guide for students providing information on area food resources.
- The MassBay Foundation has started a Student Hunger Assistance Fund, where individuals can make a donation and their contribution will go directly to the helping students have access to food.