Grand Rapids Community College has been selected as a national partner addressing student food and housing insecurity
According to the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice, nearly three in five students experience housing and food insecurity. A few years ago, Grand Rapids Community College began assisting its students when the Student Life and Conduct office identified the need for a food pantry.
“It’s easy to help a student by handing them a bag of food.”
Lina Blair is director of Student Life.
“But have since realized that the issue is a lot more broad.”
When nearly 200 students visited the pantry from fall of 2018 through summer 2019, the pantry was expanding with child care and hygiene supplies. Food pickups were added and community partners including the Heart of West Michigan United Way, Feeding America West Michigan, Meijer, Plainsong Farms and a number of sororities stepped in. The school also has an emergency fund set aside for students challenged with unexpected financial needs.
The work has not gone unnoticed. GRCC is now one of 27 colleges selected as a Hope4College partner. It’s funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the ECMC Foundation. The 27 schools will act as a support system. Other Michigan schools participating in the cohort are Mott Community College and the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
Removing barriers from transportation to housing to childcare is a tall order. I asked Blair what success will look like?
“To really rock the boar a little bit and to shake things up and to challenge ourselves and out institutions. To think a little bit more broadly
About the role of the institution is.”
Blair explains if a student’s basic needs are met, they can focus on their academics.