By Sarah Brakebill-Hacke
Student Senate President
Not long ago, I faced the uncertainty of where my next meal would come from. I lived on cold, canned ravioli, bread from Salvation Army, and freshly thrown out dumpster food. My days were spent trying to scrounge up my next meal, searching, wondering, hoping that I could eat. I am no stranger to hunger; I understand the importance of nourishment to success.
I became skilled at acquiring nourishing food on limited funds. I became so good at it that I could feed those around me. The problem was the time that it took to obtain the food. It was a full-time job. This left me unable to change my lifestyle of extreme poverty into a life of academic enrichment.
The truth is that once a person finds themselves in such a situation, it is difficult to find a way out. It is nearly impossible to focus on anything but finding your next meal. This becomes a cycle that is difficult to break.
The truth that I know now is that sometimes the only barrier standing between a person and success is a helping hand. Food is a fundamental part life, and because of that, it is our duty as a Student Senate to help fellow students who need basic nourishment. Many of our classmates at times have a hard time accessing food. What we are now learning is how many people face hunger on campus.
HOPE laboratory of Wisconsin recently did a survey and issued a report that stated, “52% of community college students have faced at least a moderate level of food security in the last 30 days.” This number is daunting. That means that over half of the students at RCTC have most likely wondered where their next meal might come from.
I started to recognize students who were hungry and began bringing extra food to help alleviate the growling bellies. Every day I would bring more, and every day it wasn’t enough.
Shortly after, the Executive Board of the Student Senate realized that something had to be done. If a student is hungry, it is difficult for them to be successful. We drafted a resolution that will provide emergency food aid to students on campus.
The Senate voted unanimously to pull $20,000 of your dollars from the student life fund balance to feed you. This money will be used to place healthy snacks in strategic locations, such as the Learning Center, and for clubs to host open houses where they will provide free food for students. The Health and Safety Committee will be strategizing ways to keep the students fed with the remainder of the funds.
This act was put into place temporarily until we can come to a more permanent resolution to the food insecurity epidemic at this campus. What we need are tuition based meal plans.We are advocating for this now, and we will keep pushing until it happens.
At U of M, you can buy a meal plan with tuition money from loans, grants or scholarships that have money to spend at vendors on campus, or even off campus at convenience stores. We need that. Full-time university students don’t have time to work enough to make the money they need to buy food. Neither do we!
The success of our students is our #1 concern. We want all students to know that they belong and that we are committed to their success. We know that an empty body makes it difficult to nourish the mind.
You can’t take a two-year break from eating so you can go to school, although apparently a lot of us are doing exactly that. Let’s get to work fixing this, and in the meantime, let’s feed each other!
If you want to donate food or money to help fix food insecurity on campus, contact me at Sarah.Brakebill-Hacke5761@mb.rctc.edu, and I will make sure it gets to the right place!