BANGOR, Maine — Food insecurity is an issue that impacts thousands of Mainers, including college students. Being hungry can put a burden on students who are just trying to learn, so Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor has taken action to combat hunger in its community by creating a campus food pantry early this year.
A survey sent out to EMCC students showed that 47 percent of students there felt they were not getting enough to eat.
EMCC food pantry organizers and volunteers hosted a 'fill the van' event Monday morning.
"We have a partnership with Good Shepherd to get certain items, but there are certain things that we can't get and we are looking for additional support to help us get through the holidays to support our students with different items. So in particular, we are looking for hygiene items, deodorant, shampoo, lotion. We are also looking for baby products if anyone has those, pet food, and obviously, we will take any non-perishables as well," TRIO Director Mike Schwabenbauer said.
TRIO Student Support Services helped open the EMCC food pantry to all of its members in January. The TRIO Peer Mentors are the ones organizing the pantry, collecting donations to help stock it up, and connecting with students who might benefit from what it offers.
Monday in Bangor, they hosted a fill the bus event, collecting donations of food and personal hygiene items to stock up the pantry and give students what they need before this holiday season.
Tasia Lima is a TRIO advisor, she says the food pantry is already serving more than 40 students.
"Food insecurity is a really big issue for many folks who are part of our community," Lima said.
To accommodate and reach even more students, the pantry offers both pick-up or delivery options.
"We are just trying to respond to that need and make sure that our community members are well-fed, they can go to bed with a full stomach, and just trying to make sure that folks have what they need because they can't learn if they are hungry," Lima said.
Autumn Mallett has benefited from the pantry a few times.
"Especially at the beginning of covid, when I was really struggling with money and it was a huge help to me," says Mallett. "Food pantries are essential to students."
"The stigma is something that we are hoping to reduce by really increasing the visibility of this work," Lima said.
If you would like to donate and support the students it serves, organizers will also be at Eastern Maine Community College tomorrow, Tuesday, November 24 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. behind Maine Hall. They ask you please ring the doorbell for someone to come out! EMCC will be closed Wednesday, November 25, Thursday November 26, and Friday, November 27 to celebrate Thanksgiving. People are also encouraged to email email@example.com to arrange donations.
This is a list of their most needed items:
Peanut butter, jam/jelly, oatmeal, Ramen noodles, macaroni and cheese, boxed pasta, canned fruit and vegetables, canned beans, pudding snack packs, juice boxes
Personal Hygiene Items:
Deodorant, body wash, shampoo and conditioner, lotion, feminine hygiene products
Diapers, wipes, formula, food
Small bottles of cooking oil, ground coffee, spices/seasonings
For EMCC students who would like to use the pantry, peer mentors provide curbside pick-up on Tuesdays 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., and Wednesdays 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. behind Maine Hall near the Success Center Doors. Local deliveries (30-mile radius) will occur on Thursdays, based on demand. For more details email firstname.lastname@example.org.