Special to The Dallas Examiner
Food insecurity – or lack of access to nutritional foods – in the Dallas area is nothing new, including hunger on college campuses. That’s why the North Texas Food Bank and Cedar Valley College joined forces Sept. 20 for Hunger Action Month, visiting campuses in NTFB’s mobile food pantry. Cedar Valley is the first college in the Dallas County Community College District to welcome the mobile food pantry as a way to fight student hunger.
“September is Hunger Action Month, a national movement to mobilize the public to take action against food insecurity. This is the perfect time to launch our partnership with DCCCD to ensure that college students in our community receive the food they need so they can learn and grow,” said Trisha Cunningham, NTFB’s president and CEO.
More than 100 Cedar Valley students visited the mobile food pantry and took home approximately 3,000 pounds of food, according to Henry Martinez, CVC director of marketing and public relations.
“DCCCD and the North Texas Food Bank are partnering to make food available at all of our colleges,” said Dr. Pyeper Wilkins, chief advancement officer and executive director of the DCCCD Foundation. “Our district participated in the Wisconsin HOPE study last year, and we learned about the level of food insecurity that exists on our college campuses. NTFB will visit every college in our system to determine the best ways to make food available for our students.
Some of the community colleges already have food pantries, and Wilkins said they are planning to expand them. Several colleges that don’t have food pantries will either find space for one or will bring the NTFB’s mobile food pantry on site, she added.
“I have a new tagline I want to use with this effort – ‘let’s stop the stigma’ – when it comes to meeting this critical need,” said Dr. Joe Seabrooks, president of Cedar Valley College. “Most of us have struggled at certain points in our lives, and there is no shame in getting help like this. I also don’t want to underplay the fact that poverty is a significant issue in our region. Strategies like this partnership involving the North Texas Food Bank, Cedar Valley College and the Dallas County Community College District are designed to help make a difference in people’s lives. We are very proud to be a part of this initiative.”
In a HOPE study conducted in fall 2016, 64 percent of DCCCD students reported “marginal or worse food security” during the previous 30-day period before they took a survey for the study. Twenty-seven percent of DCCCD students reported very low food security, which reflects “multiple indications of reduced food intake and disrupted eating patterns due to inadequate resources for food,” according to the Wisconsin.
NTFB’s mobile food pantry will return to CVC once a month, except during the month of January.