BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Hunger and food insecurity have been an ongoing problem here in Maine and many people might not realize that some of that happens on college campuses.
According to a study from the University of Connecticut, 50 percent of college students in the U.S. are food insecure.
As a way to help those struggling with hunger, the University of Maine Bangor Campus teamed up with the Good Shepherd Food Bank.
Giving back to those in need has become a tradition at UMA. Every semester, volunteers from the school and the Good Shepherd Food Bank distribute fresh fruits, veggies, and canned goods to nearly 600 families.
“It's not a permanent solution, but it's great that we can do it,” said Colleen Coffey, library assistant at UMA Bangor.
But for some volunteers, this food drive hits a little closer to home.
“Your on-campus life is not your only life,” said student Brad O’Brien.
He is considered a nontraditional student. Like many of his classmates who were once mill workers, or singe parents, he has had a difficult time managing school, work and getting back on his feet.
“It was challenging to know what to prioritize,” he said.
Thankfully food donation programs like this alleviated the stress of figuring out what was for dinner…something many people don't consider when they think of college.
“You would expect that students who can afford a fancy college degree could afford food at least but that's not the case,” said Coffey.
Colleen Coffey said food insecurity on all college campuses has been a problem for years- and although it can be embarrassing to ask for help, she wants students to know you're not alone.
“It's important to address hunger in that way to directly answer that call,” said Coffey.
That is why she turned to the Maine Hunger Dialogue, a movement to raise awareness of hunger on every higher education campus in the country. With support from the Good Shepherd Food Bank and Bangor Savings, this food truck has helped even more than just those struggling students.
“To be able to bring that here and have the community interacting with our students and vice- versa, while being able to help so many students is great,” said O’Brien.
Staff and faculty hope this will inspire other universities to do the same.