Technical colleges come to the aid of students with food insecurities

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By Erin Eagan


The cost of living increases and other demands have left many college students and their families struggling financially. Oftentimes, they are left having to choose between paying for college or meeting basic needs like food and housing.


non-perishable food items

Courtesy of Gateway Technical College

A recent survey conducted by the Wisconsin Hope Lab found that 42% of two-year college students are “food insecure,” lacking the ability to provide enough food to lead an active, healthy life. Almost one in two college students have to cut their portion sizes or skip meals altogether due to a lack of funds. Food insecurity impacts all facets of a student’s life, both physically and mentally.

While food insecurity among college students is not a new issue, it is a growing one. Wisconsin’s technical colleges are working to tackle the issue at their campuses by setting up food pantries for students in need. For campuses that don’t offer a pantry of their own, students are encouraged to reach out to resources available in their local communities.

Blackhawk Technical College
The BTC Student Cupboard, in partnership with Caritas and Second Harvest Food Bank, is open to students after they've filled out an application. The application asks for the students' name, student ID number and how many adults and children are in their household. Once the application is approved, the students can visit the cupboard when it's open on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

Chippewa Valley Technical College
During the 2017-18 school year, there were 728 total visits to the CVTC Food Pantry. When CVTC students visit their pantry, they don’t have to give any data or private information. All they need is a student ID.

Fox Valley Technical College
Regardless of income, current students can visit the FVTC Student Food Pantry once a week to obtain a total of eight items.

Gateway Technical College
In the Gateway Food for Thought program, students meet with Support Counselors where their needs are evaluated and referred to the appropriate support resources.

Lakeshore Technical College
With Lakeshore’s Student Share — Help on a Shelf, students can have access to items like microwaveable meals, soup cups, pasta and Ramen noodles at no cost. Personal care items are also available.

Madison College
Fighting food insecurity is one of the priorities of MATC's 2018-2019 budget. The school has allocated up to $75,000 to develop strategies to address student hunger. Madison College offers food pantries at all four of its regional campuses.

Milwaukee Area Technical College
The MATC Student Food Bank, sponsored by the Office of Student Life, is for any current student with a valid Stormer Pass (MATC’s equivalent of a student ID). Students are welcome to pick up food at the Downtown Milwaukee Campus on Wednesdays between 2-4pm.

Nicolet College
Snack Pantries are scattered throughout the college, with healthy snacks and resource information about the many community organizations that exist to those in need. Six buildings on campus have the snack pantries. They're available to anyone who needs food during the day.

Northcentral Technical College
NTC’s food pantry, Timberwolf Table, allows students to self-select a number of items from several categories including breakfast, fruits and vegetables, protein, pasta and soup, and miscellaneous.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
The NWTC Shared Harvest Food Cupboard provides nutritional food support for enrolled students in need.

Southwest Technical College
The Chargers Cupboard at SWTC is available to any current Southwest Tech student in need of emergency or supplemental food. Depending on available inventory, students are allowed one or two bags of groceries a week.

Waukesha County Technical College
The Campus Cupboard food pantry, located in the WCTC College Center, is available to students who would otherwise struggle with hunger.

Western Technical College
Western’s Cavalier Cupboard food pantry is designed to meet the immediate food needs of its students by providing them with access to non-perishable food items, hygiene items and information on local resources.

Getting through college is hard enough. It’s nice to know students have a place to turn when they need assistance beyond the classroom.