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CCC-Hastings Addresses Food Insecurity

March 09, 2017

Central Community College-Hastings students may be traditional or nontraditional. Some live on campus and others commute. And some of them are facing food insecurity, a term used to describe people who have unreliable access to adequate, nutritious and affordable food.

In an effort to address this issue, CCC-Hastings opened the Central Closet in January. It is a pantry open to all CCC students who are having trouble meeting basic needs such as food or hygienic items.

Dr. Susan Oliver, nutrition instructor, came up with the idea and researched it as part of a back-to-industry experience.

She also was knowledgeable about local efforts to address food insecurity. She has packed food into backpacks for Food4Thought, a community program in Hastings that addresses food insecurity involving kids in kindergarten through the fifth grade. She also was familiar with the programs offered in Hastings by community organizations, government agencies, churches and Hastings College.

“We have now joined their ranks,” Oliver said. “We started discussing a year ago if there was a need for a food pantry on our campus because we would hear of students who couldn’t afford to buy groceries. Then it was a question of how to go about making it happen.”

The answer was teamwork. Faculty and staff members came together to clean out a closet in the Dawson Building. Students from the Hastings Campus chapters of the National Society for Leadership and Success and Phi Theta Kappa honorary society organized food and hygiene drives to help stock the shelves.

Right now, the closet includes – and accepts donations of – nonperishable food as well as hygienic items such as toilet paper, deodorant, razors and laundry detergent. There are no set hours, but three Dawson Building employees have volunteered to open the closet when needed. Students can call or email them to set up a time.

“We’re very flexible and will work with them,” Oliver said. “We let them take what they need and we don’t take their names.”

In the future, Oliver would like to find the funds for a freezer to put in the closet. She’d also like to provide vouchers so people can buy eggs, milk and bread at the grocery store.

“And I’d like to provide recipes to the participants in hope that they will make healthy meals with the foods from the closet,” Oliver said.

In the meantime, the Central Closet is open for business. Students who need access to the closet or individuals who want to make a food, hygiene or cash donation may contact Lauren Slaughter at 402-460-2195; Lydia Lough at 402-460-2573; or Susan Oliver at 402-461-2404.


Grand Island Campus

The Grand Island Campus also has a food and hygiene pantry that provides similar items as the Hastings Campus and welcomes donations.

Students who need access to the pantry or individuals who want to make a donation may call Rhett Psota at (308) 398-7522, A.J. Hodtwalker at (308) 398-7529 or Nick Freelend at (308) 398-7417.