Student Basic Needs Security

Why Basic Needs Security?

While civic engagement traditionally looks at the issue of hunger and homelessness outside of the institution, Campus Compact of Southern New England believes that these initiatives can look inward to the campus community to support work addressing issues of student basic needs insecurity and supporting student retention. On issues such as basic needs security, CCSNE works with our member institutions to share knowledge and develop a collective capacity to resolve issues affecting student success and engagement.

Community and civic engagement offices can work to align themselves with on-campus efforts to support at-risk students and the wider community of the campus. When these projects are aimed at impacting retention, institutions can apply to host an AmeriCorps VISTA from Campus Compact to support this work. Our goal is to provide examples of practice and resources to support campus initiatives aimed at basic needs security and to help community engagement participate in these efforts.

Member Campus Program Examples

Single Stop at Bunker Hill Community College connects students to state and federal financial resources and local community services including a mobile food pantry in partnership with the Greater Boston Food Bank. Single Stop at BHCC also addresses food insecurity on campus through partnerships with Food Link and Food for Free, by providing SNAP application assistance, and by participating in a study by the Wisconsin Hope Lab.

At MWCC, the Students Serving Our Students (SOS) Office and Food for Thought Pantry housed within the Brewer Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement provides information and referrals to students regarding food insecurity, financial assistance, transportation issues, childcare, housing, and more by utilizing student mentors, who are volunteers or service learning students, to help other students locate resources on campus and in the community. The Student SOS Office is working to develop a food pantry in partnership with the Gardner CAC on the MWCC campus.

The Pantry @NCC seeks to alleviate the barriers and challenges associated with food insecurity and hunger so that students can remain in school, and ultimately, earn their degrees. Through a pantry located in the main building on campus that is supported by student volunteers and through donations from members of both the NCC and surrounding communities, this program provides food to students without documentation of need.

An actual school bus renovated into a pantry and parked on campus, the Magic Food Bus seeks to alleviate the challenges of food insecurity faced by college students and their families. The bus provides non-perishable food items, toiletries, and other items to MxCC students and staff. The bus is operated by the students of the college, with management provided by MCC students in the Human & Family Services Studies program who provide leadership to the project while also receiving course credit. 

The U-ACCESS Office at UMass Boston collaborates with resources on campus and in the Greater Boston area to alleviate students’ struggles with food and housing insecurity among many other issues. U-ACCESS Offers case management, information and resource referral, a food pantry, and has a resource guide online for students.

Intervention Resources

Food pantries are an increasingly popular intervention to support food insecure students on campus. Pantries may partner with community food banks as well as food recovery programs either on campus or in the community to stock their shelves and often provide a valuable first point of  contact to connect food insecure students to other resources and services.

Mobile Food Market Examples:

These models of support service hubs aim to increase access to benefits for students and provide resources for a variety of challenges in a place and manner that is convenient for students to access. In a one stop shop, students may find resources and support for food security, housing security, childcare, transportation, public benefits, utility assistance, and more.

Examples of Practice:

Food recovery programs provide a valuable opportunity for partnerships that support food insecure students and encourage campus and community food sustainability. Many food recovery programs on campus currently serve food insecure individuals in the community, but the potential for also supporting food insecure students is being increasingly realized.

National Food Recovery Organizations:

Examples of Food Recovery Partnerships Supporting Campus Pantries:

Food for Free supports the food pantry at Bunker Hill CC. Food for free collects, tracks, and repackages excess food while complying with all food safety regulations. They accept food from catering companies, food service professionals, and campus dining halls such as Tufts, Harvard, and Boston University.

Food Link also supports the Bunker Hill CC food pantry. Volunteers collect food from places like Panera Bread and Trader Joe’s and distribute it to community organizations in Arlington, Medford, and surrounding towns. Their website has resources for creating a food rescue program in your community

Campus Kitchens Project at UMass Boston supports the food pantry at the U-ACCESS office through the Food-to-go initiative to provide students with prepared meals.

SNAP application assistance provides an opportunity to dramatically increase support for food insecure students, and their families, especially given that most SNAP-eligible college students are not enrolled in the program and/or do not know that they may qualify. 

Examples of Practice: 

Key Studies:

Emergency aid can include emergency funds, grants, and loans that aim to assist students in time to affect their decisions regarding enrollment. Financial aid offices can also evaluate timing of aid and deadlines for students facing financial difficulties in an effort to keep them enrolled.

Key Resources:

Meal vouchers and swipe donations allow food insecure students to participate in the experience of campus cafeterias and dining halls as well as reducing the need for a student to have kitchen access and equipment to prepare foods from a pantry. 

Examples of Practice:

Key Studies:

Guides to community and campus resources that can be accessed by students and can be organized by type: food, housing, transportation, utilities, childcare, etc. and easily accessible on institution’s website.

Examples of Practice:

Increasing awareness and reducing stigma around food insecurity issues are critical elements of addressing food insecurity on campus. Marketing of resources and education about the issues will help increase student utilization of resources and hopefully reduce the overall rate of insecurity. Awareness campaigns can include events, panels, film screenings, social media campaigns, postering on campus, food drives, and making data available, particularly data that is specific to the campus. All interventions should include components of raising awareness and reducing stigma.

Examples of Practice:

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Organizations and Partners

Addressing Basic Needs on Your Campus?

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