FRAMINGHAM – MassBay Community College announced it has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the Foundation for MetroWest to provide ongoing meal scholarships to 20 students enrolled in MassBay’s spring 2021 semester.
These funds will support students who are experiencing food insecurity.
“We are extremely grateful for the support the Foundation for MetroWest has provided our students who are struggling with food insecurity,” said MassBay President David Podell. “Our goal is to provide all students with access to a high-quality education, but we know students can’t be successful when they are lacking basic needs, such as food. Our data show that, when students who are experiencing food insecurity are given access to food, their grades improve to higher levels than their peers, and a higher percentage continue their education. Quite simply, the funds we expend to ensure our students aren’t hungry give them a better chance for success in college and in life.”
Data collected in fall 2019 by MassBay show that the average GPA of the 48 scholarship recipients increased from 3.09 to 3.13 after receiving the scholarship. Students who were eligible for a scholarship but did not receive one because of a lack of available funding saw a decrease in their average GPA from 2.90 to 2.53.
More recent data from spring 2020 showed similar results. The 70 students receiving a scholarship maintained their 3.33 average GPA. The GPA of the six students the College was unable to fund dropped from 3.2 to 2.7. The data also showed meal scholarship students returned to college in the fall at a higher rate than those who did not receive a scholarship.
From spring 2020 to fall 2020, the 70 students who received a scholarship returned to school at a rate 21 percentage points higher than the overall retention rate.
“We are thrilled to support MassBay and their Meal Scholarship program, especially during these challenging times,” said Jay Kim, executive director of the Foundation for MetroWest. “Our COVID relief efforts have been focused on supporting our neighbors who have been deeply impacted by the pandemic and MassBay students are no exception. We are grateful MassBay prioritizes supporting the basic needs of students so they can continue to access this incredible education and reach success.”
Currently, the average cost to ensure a student is food secure for the semester is $455. In spring 2021, 134 students have been awarded a MassBay Meal Scholarship, totaling $60,970.
MassBay has partnered with Imperfect Foods, an online grocer that aims to eliminate food waste and build a better food system for everyone by sourcing surplus food and imperfect produce from farmers and producers and delivering these goods to customers at an affordable price. This type of delivery service not only provides food to be sent directly to a student’s home, but students also have an account and can select what type of food they would like to receive.
In March 2020, when most courses moved to a remote or online format, MassBay’s Student Nourishment & Care Committee (SNACC), the group that oversees the Meal Scholarships program, pivoted to ensure food was being sent directly to students’ homes. In 2020, 230 Meal Scholarships were awarded to students during the spring, summer, and fall semesters, totaling more than $80,000. From spring 2020 to spring 2021, the SNACC saw a 79% increase in Meal Scholarship applications.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, MassBay provided several on-campus initiatives to offer students direct access to food, including meal scholarship cards to purchase food in the cafeteria. In fall 2019, 48 students were awarded more than $10,000 in Meal Scholarships.
One recent MassBay Meal Scholarship recipient stated, “I’m honestly not sure how I would have afforded food this semester without the scholarship. Like many people, I lost my job due to COVID-19. Because the food is delivered directly to homes it also greatly reduced my COVID risk by making it less necessary to go to a store.”
Another recipient said, “I am living paycheck to paycheck with very little to allot to anything outside of paying my bills. Since starting at MassBay last January, I have been a very dedicated, hardworking student. I have maintained a 3.8 GPA and work very hard to make sure that my grades stay up. Currently I am working towards my associate degree in Biotechnology and am hoping that my grades will help me get scholarships to continue in a four-year program. I believe that eating right is a big part of my success at MassBay, but with all of my expenses, I am struggling to do so. I often skip breakfast and sometimes lunch simply because I don’t have the money to buy enough food.”
The MassBay Meal Scholarship program is funded by generous individual donations and grants. Since March 2019 MassBay has provided $151,113 to 412 students to help eliminate hunger on our campuses. To date, the Foundation for MetroWest has provided more than $40,000 through grants to support MassBay’s food insecurity initiatives, as well as additional funding to support the College’s Institute of Trauma, Adversity, and Resilience and emergency funding.
Alicia, another student recipient of the Meal Scholarship Program, is 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,” she said. “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.”
To learn more about the Foundation for MetroWest visit www.foundationmw.org.
To learn more about MassBay visit www.massbay.edu.
In full transparency, the photo and press release were submitted to SOURCE media.