Addressing RSCC food insecurity
All community colleges are expected to educate and train students to prepare them for a future career, but Roane State Community College goes a step further. At its Harriman campus, Roane State established the Raider Pantry, a facility that provides supplies for students dealing with the issue of food insecurity.
“It’s difficult to be your best in class if you’re worrying about feeding your family or yourself,” said Karen Brunner, RSCC’s vice president of institutional effectiveness and a co founder of the food pantry project. “Since September 2019 when we opened the pantry, hundreds of students, their children, and other family members have been served.”
With the pandemic creating a national emergency, the need for food increased as many families struggled with their finances. Through the Neighbor to Neighbor Fund, a $2,500 grant from CNS was matched with a $2,500 grant from East Tennessee Foundation, which provided much needed support for RSCC’s COVID-19 crisis response.
With many students learning from home amid the pandemic, RSCC hosted “Food Pantry On the Go” events that attracted students and their families who might not otherwise have been able to take advantage of the service.
“We had one student who drove in for the event and she had her kids with her,” said Dr. Lisa Steffensen, RSCC’s dean of students and a food pantry organizer. “We helped her pick out some items and made sure the kids got to help pick cereal and a dessert item to take with them. As they were leaving, one of the kids yelled from the back seat, ‘Thank you for helping us.’ It just really hit home how much these meals mean to our students and their families.”