Food, Lifestyle, News

Hunger Series: Survey shows a third of NSCC students are at the lowest level of food security

Dr. Jermaine Williams

In fall of 2016, North Shore Community College handed a survey to its students using a scale taken from a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) instrument. The survey consisted of six questions that they answered by giving a score between zero to six. According to Jermaine Williams, the Vice President of Student Affairs at NSCC, said 32.1 percent of students who replied to the survey, with 650 of them scoring at the lowest level of food security. More than half of their students are at food insecure status and one third of students are at the lowest level of food security.

“We do know there is an overrepresentation of our students of color, specifically ones who identify as African American or black or Latino, but at the same time it’s all of our students who are experiencing this,”said Williams. “No one is immune to food insecurity. The truly inspiring thing is a third of our students are at the lowest level of food security and they’re still achieving their educational goals.”

After the data came in, the university decided to make some changes. They took their Stop Hunger On Campus (SHOC) vouchers and increased them from $7 to $8 because they realized students weren’t able to buy full meals for under the original value, per day. They also began advertising the vouchers around campus to let students know they were available to anyone who needed them. Students can even pick up emergency food bags, packed by nutrition professionals at Open Door and Beverly Boot Straps, filled with essentials, mostly a wide array of healthy foods with long-standing expiration dates, which are restocked by NSCC faculty whenever they run out.

NSCC, partnered with Greater Boston Food Bank, holds a once-a-month mobile food market that provides fresh food delivered directly to the Lynn campus. The Danvers campus also has one with fresh food provided by The Open Door and Beverly Boot Straps organizations. The farmer’s market style mobile pantry has the ability to provide students and attendees with 20 to 25 pounds of fresh produce. The mobile market isn’t just for students, anyone in need can sign up to receive fresh produce or show up the day of the event. More than 29 tons of produce was provided to those with food insecurities at the last few markets.

The campus also created a website that provides a list of resources students can access if need be. http://www.northshore.edu/heretohelp/#food

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