Food depository offers healthy food to students monthly
By Angel G. Arriaga
City Colleges of Chicago’s partnership with the Greater Chicago Food Depository is an effort to overcome “food insecurity” and ensure student success.
HWC students, faculty members and staff can stock up ona variety of healthy and nutritious foods, including fresh fruit, vegetables and non-perishable items on the first Wednesday of every month, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The food is not donated, or recycled, but indeed purchased, according to the Food Depository.
The program asks attendees to take a brief survey at the event for demographic purposes. Some of the questions ask for the numbers of members in the household, and whether household members receive SNAP benefits.
This is not for qualifying purposes; it is highly encouraged for students who are in need of these resources to use them to their advantage, according to Cynthia Cerrentano, HWC associate dean of instruction and program coordinator.
It began when the Student Success Council, which aimed to tackle food insecurity, discussed the article, “On The Path To Graduation, Life Intervenes” by Scott Carlson.
“Student poverty, homelessness, and hunger didn’t used to be colleges’ problem. Now they are grappling with how much to help,” said Carlson.
The program aims to address the issue discussed by Carlson, as it understands that it is not always surface things that are affecting students and faculty members, but integral aspects of their life as well, according to Cerrentano.
“Most of our efforts at the student success council towards the food market sort of emanated from the conversation we were having. How can we support students academically? If you’re hungry, it’s really hard to care about your math. But before you can talk about academics, how can we support them holistically?,” she said.
The turnout of HWC students has been outstanding, according to Kelsie Kline, senior manager of Children and Adult Programs for the Food Depository.
“Harold Washington College has distributed over 22,000 pounds of foodto date and has served over 990 students,” Kline said.
Besides City Colleges, the Food Depository is in partnership with 700 agencies and programs, including pantries, soup kitchens and shelters, according to their website. They provide for children, the elderly, veterans and anyone else in need.
“Providing food for hungry people while striving to end hunger in our community” is part of their mission statement.
With that, they estimate that 160,000 meals are distributed daily across Cook County.