Food insecurity, hunger, and homelessness are pressing issues everywhere and college campuses are no exception. Contrary to the stereotype, nontraditional students make up over 73% of the student population. Meaning today’s typical student is not a recent high school graduate who lives in a dormitory and is supported by his or her parents. In fact, fewer than 1 in 5 students fit the stereotype of having parents who can pay their college expenses. With the rising cost of college education, more and more students are living on a budget that is close to or at poverty levels, and having to forego proper access to food is sadly common.
In 2017, Hillsborough Community College Foundation partnered with faculty, staff, student government, and HCC leadership to develop a program that will rise to meet this challenge— “Food 2 Finish.” This initiative was put in place to offer direct aid and support to any student, faculty, and staff member that is undergoing the hardship of food insecurity. We have opened pantries on 2 of our 5 campuses, as well as providing emergency relief packs and resources to all others. Food 2 Finish aims to not only eliminate barriers and hardships to students’ academic success but to provide the knowledge and resources to prevent it from happening in the future. Food 2 Finish provides food resources designed to address individual short-term needs and referrals to services which aim to find long-term solutions for those in need.
Food 2 Finish has also partnered with the Junior League of Tampa to provide diapers and feminine hygiene products to the HCC community. This partnership has allowed Food 2 Finish to help eradicate diaper need and period poverty as barriers to the educational success of HCC students, faculty, and staff.
The Food 2 Finish program has developed further by utilizing the AmeriCorps VISTA program. This program has helped HCC get the Food 2 Finish initiative off the ground.