MCC expands services for students in need
Meeting the needs of students requires more than academic or intellectual stimulation — bodies need to be nourished and sheltered in order to flourish.
A Wisconsin Hope Lab survey taken in 2017 by Middlesex Community College students revealed that 41% of the students experienced food insecurity within the previous year. In response, the college expanded the food pantries they opened on both the Bedford and Lowell campuses in December 2016. That was just the start of a new initiative — and conversations — for the college.
Jonathan Crockett has been with MCC for 13 years. In August, he was named coordinator of essential student needs and community resources. While he runs the food pantries, Crockett also works with students, employees and community partners to raise awareness of the need for, and the presence of, food and housing resources for the MCC community.
“ There’s a perception that once you’ve arrived at a place in your life of being able to go to college, you’re beyond some of those basic needs, you’ve arrived at a new place of financial security, an independence of stability,” he said. “And that’s just not a safe assumption.”
Every Wednesday throughout the fall semester, Crockett and volunteers hand out donations of fresh produce on campus, like apples or onions. By accepting the free food, hundreds of MCC students, faculty and staff become part of the food pantry, which helps to raise awareness of and destigmatize food insecurity.
In addition to on- campus donations, Crockett believes partnering with local businesses and organizations allows MCC to reach more students. The Lowell- based Merrimack Valley Food Bank provides 75% of the resources in the pantries, including 20 frozen turkeys for Thanksgiving. This year, the Manolis Foundation also supplied 50 students with free Thanksgiving baskets that include a frozen turkey and all the fixings.
The need also extends to the Bedford campus. Bedford Rotary Club member Diana Jarvis recently delivered a $ 1,000 donation check to the MCC food pantries.
“ The Rotary would like to help Middlesex and its students however we can,” she said.
Bedford Rotary is also interested in having further conversations about how it can support MCC students dealing with housing insecurity and homelessness.
The Lowell Campus Food Pantry is open Mondays and Tuesdays, from 10 a. m. to 2 p. m., inside the Lowell Student Lounge ( 213A). The Bedford Campus Food Pantry is open Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 10 a. m. to 2 p.m,. in Bedford House (Building 5), Room BH 103.
The pantries offer supplemental food items, such as canned soups, vegetables and fruit; rice and pasta; milk, cheese, eggs and some frozen and fresh foods like ground turkey and produce; as well as personal- hygiene items.
The MCC Food Pantries provide volunteer opportunities for those who would like to offer support, including monetary or in- kind donations. For more info, visit middlesex. mass. edu/ studentlife/mccfoodpantry/ or email foodpantry@ middlesex. mass. edu. For more information on food/ housing resources, contact Jonathan Crockett at crockettj@ middlesex. mass. edu.
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