PRESQUE ISLE — Hannaford Supermarkets announced an expansion of its ‘Fuel Kids at School’ pantry initiative to Maine’s community colleges with a donation of $35,000 to establish and expand pantries at all seven community college campuses. NMCC received $4,800 to use towards construction of a privacy wall, a new freezer and food supplies to support the on-campus pantry available to any students in need. The construction portion of the project is still under way.
“Student’s needs do not stop regardless of whether or not they are on campus or fully online,” said NMCC Student Navigator Ashley Hall. “Winter is typically when we see more students accessing the food pantry, and this year we have seen an increase. Many students have been impacted by COVID-19 and the financial hardships that all communities are facing.”
This semester Hall coordinated directly with students facing food insecurity, often creating boxes of food for their families and delivering them herself. “Our students have continued to push through multiple barriers, which goes beyond food insecurity to include housing, transportation, childcare, and health needs. Despite these barriers, many students have shown their ability to be resilient and persist to achieve their academic goals.”
Based on research conducted with Preble Street in Portland, system officials estimate that at least 40 percent of students enrolled at the colleges are food insecure.
“This generous donation not only helps keep these food pantries stocked, it provides for freezers and refrigerators that will allow these food pantries to provide a range of food options for years to come,” said Maine Community College System President David Daigler. “Our students can’t learn if they’re hungry. These food pantries, many of them student-run, are a critical resource for our students and their families.”
NMCC is working directly with Good Shepherd Food Bank on preparatory and operational logistics, including food safety training and inspections and food purchases.
“By removing barriers and bringing food right to where people already are and through folks they already trust is such a win-win,” said Shannon Coffin, vice president of community partnerships at Good Shepherd Food Bank.
The donation is a part of Hannaford’s $1 million commitment to ‘Fuel Kids at School’ pantry initiative launched in November 2019 to establish 90 school food pantries across the northeast, including 30 in Maine. Since then, all 30 school-based food pantries have been established at Head Start preschools across the state in partnership with Good Shepherd Food Bank.
“With all the pressures and demands of being a college student, we hope that being hungry or thinking about where their next meal will come from is not one of them. It is our hope that Fuel Kids at School, at our community colleges, will remove a barrier for students who are trying to improve their lives and shore up their future,” said Sherri Stevens who leads community relations for Hannaford Supermarkets.
“I am grateful for the support the community has given to our students in need, and I know our students are grateful as well,” said NMCC’s Ashley Hall. “I cannot thank Hannaford and the Good Shepherd Food Bank enough for the support they have given to NMCC, along with all the other generous community members during this time.”
To learn more about resources available to NMCC students, contact Hall at email@example.com.