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Anyone that has gone to college knows that it can at times be a stressful experience. Students bury their noses in coursework, while at the same time balancing the rest of their lives.
The last thing students should be concerned with is whether they will be able to afford basic essentials for them and their family.
HACC’s Lebanon Campus has made strides in helping students when it comes make sure they have access to basic necessities like food and hygiene products with the campus’s Giving Pantry.
The Giving Pantry is situated within the campus’s Welcome Center and open to all students, who are permitted to peruse the shelves stocked with goods ranging from cereal and canned vegetables to toothpaste and feminine hygiene products.
It all started with a small box in the spring of 2018, and since then it has expanded into the current location, nestled in the back corner of the school’s Welcome Center.
All of the supplies that make their way in and out of the Giving Pantry come by way way of local sources.
According to Laurie Bowersox, HACC’s Lebanon Campus executive director, the school partners with local companies and organizations.
“We partner with LCCM, the Rescue Mission and Calvary [Chapel],” said Bowersox. “We have other churches and other people here on the employee side who will bring items to add to the pantry.”
The school keeps track of the Giving Pantry’s usage via a sign sheet that students must sign at the front desk.
Bowersox said that on average the Giving Pantry sees about 280 visits each month, with the high-water mark of usage being 425 visits in a single month.
The Giving Pantry is open Monday through Friday and its hours match those of the campus’s Welcome Center.
Bowersox said that the adminstration seeks input from students, including the Student Government Association, to find out what students think would be most helpful to stock in the Giving Pantry.
“We get their feedback often, and some of them are students that are desperately in need of using the facility,” said Bowersox.
Moving forward the school is looking to set up seasonal partners to help stock the Giving Pantry with fresh fruits, vegetables, and eggs. Additionally, they are looking to provide more paper and cleaning products.
“We’ve brought those items in and when we do, they are gone sometimes within minutes because the students are super appreciative and it makes a big difference in their lives,” said Bowersox.
Lebanon isn’t the only one of HACC’s five campuses trying to fight student food insecurity. Recently, president of HACC John J. “Ski” Sygielski penned an column for LNP (paywall) detailing the struggle that students attending community college can face and the steps the college is taking to combat them.
Update: This article has been updated to refer correctly to Calvary Chapel (rather than Calvary Church).