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Nursing students give hope to students in need

Despite the legendary Freshman Fifteen, a new study out of the University of Wisconsin suggests that a staggering number of college students have difficulty finding enough to eat.

In a report titled “Hungry to Learn,” authors professor Sara Goldrick-Rab with the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Department of Educational Policy Studies, University of Michigan professor Daniel Eisenberg, and UW-Madison doctoral candidate Katharine Broton presented findings that show 52 percent of the surveyed students faced marginal to severe anxiety over access to sufficient food sources.

According to Northampton’s own Nursing Lab Assistant Mary Vogel, localized studies suggest that roughly 30 percent of NCC’s own community face the same challenges.

Now, the Nursing Student Organization offers a solution, right on campus.

The HOPE Pantry, which stands for “Helping Our Peers Excel,” has served as a source for students in need, offering relief to students across all demographics, enrollment levels, or regions suffering from food insecurity.

Located in Penn Hall 122A, the pantry offers both non-perishable foods collected through donations, and more time-sensitive donations contributed through a partnership with Second Harvest.

The program had been discussed among members of the NSO for several years, but it wasn’t until 2015 that the idea took hold, when former students Logan Paff and Farrah Khawaja laid the groundwork for the pantry to grow. After they graduated, the pantry needed a new coordinator – and it found it in Nursing major Kimber Rohner.

“I heard about it through NSO,” Rohner said, “and I joined because I wanted to help the community on a bigger scale.”

And she’s jumped in feetfirst, having brought the Pantry from a fledgling idea to its grand opening in September. The pantry now runs on a weekly basis, serving students from all degrees, resident or commuting.

“Our goal is to help as many students as we can,” Rohner said.

“Hunger has no barriers. Food insecurity can obstruct student success, affecting all demographic statuses, enrollment levels, and geographic locations. There is no face to food insecurity. College students who experience food insecurity struggle to reach milestones such as year-to-year persistence and certificate or degree completion…We are simply here to help others fight hunger and make it a little easier to complete their degrees.”

They’re not done yet. Looking to the future, the pantry hopes to open branches at both the Monroe and Southside campuses, and start featuring recipes for students that are easy and healthy to prepare.

However, they need all the help they can get, including donations. Non-perishable food items and toiletries, including shower supplies and feminine hygiene products are always being accepted at a drop-off cart outside Penn Hall 113, 24/7.

What started as a simple idea tossed across meetings has grown into a new student-run service for NCC.

“The food pantry was established to address the issue of food insecurity,” said Rohner, of the pantry’s mission. “It will not only provide a meal for the hungry student; it will help to ensure hunger is not a factor inhibiting academic success.”

For more information and to learn how you can help, contact Kimber Rohner at krohner@nullspartan.northampton.edu