PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Although they are getting ready to leave the college for the work force or for summer break, students at Northern Maine Community College first made sure their friends and neighbors would be taken care of.

During a presentation late Tuesday afternoon, representatives from the NMCC Student Senate donated 1 ton of canned food and dry goods to Catholic Charities Maine on behalf of the NMCC Class of 2009.

The food was purchased by Catholic Charities from the Good Shepherd Food-Bank in Auburn through a donation made by the student government body at NMCC on behalf of the graduating class.

“We purchased 24 pallets of food,” CCM program director Dixie Shaw said Tuesday. “We are going to send one pallet to each of our 24 food pantries in the county.”

During his State of the Community College System address to the Legislature last month, Maine Community College System President John Fitzsimmons challenged student senates at each of the seven MCCS campuses to match $75,000 in private funds with cash or canned goods as part of the “Graduation: Can Due” initiative.

“By graduation day this May, our students will donate a total of $150,000 in money and food to food banks across the state,” Fitzsimmons said in a written statement. “It will be a graduation gift from the Class of 2009, in thanks and appreciation to the people of Maine for supporting their dreams of a college education.”

Aaron Conroy, NMCC student senate president and a diesel hydraulics technology student from Presque Isle, said Tuesday that collecting the money for food was easy.

“Pretty much everyone wanted to give back,” he said. “We have 200 students graduating, so each student donated 10 pounds of food.”

Catholic Charities Home Supplies and Food Bank serves more than 33,200 people through two dozen local food pantries.

In addition to the donated food, donations of nonperishable food items and cash will be accepted throughout May by the student senate to help support the Home Supplies and Food Bank.

Shaw said Tuesday that the donated food was already being distributed.