It was an eye opener when the president of North Shore Community College (NSCC) overheard one student tell another he hadn’t had anything to eat in days.
“He asked the friend if he had any extra food in his knapsack to share,” recalled Patricia Gentile of the 2015 incident in the downtown campus corridor.
She told the student he could get a food voucher in the nurse’s office. And because there’s a stigma to getting food at food pantries and soup kitchens, Gentile told him the school has arranged for the Greater Boston Food Bank to bring its mobile food pantry to the campus.
“We are an institution of learning, but it’s hard to learn when you’re hungry,” Gentile said. “Our staff has built relationships with nonprofits that provide help so we can refer students.”
It turns out that student wasn’t the only one going hungry.
In a 2016 survey, NSCC discovered that nearly 54 percent of all respondents said they were experiencing some level of “food insecurity.”