School feeds hungry bodies and minds

Century College, White Bear Emergency Food Shelf collaborate on food pantry

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Century College student Samay, left, loads food from the school’s new on-campus food pantry into a bag held by Alison Schram of the White Bear Lake Emergency Food Shelf shortly after the pantry opened in late March. The Century food pantry is open to students two days a week and is jointly run by the school and White Bear Lake food shelf. (Photo courtesy of Century College)

WHITE BEAR LAKE — College can be a great place to learn new skills, but not if you’re hungry.

Century College and the White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf jointly opened an on-campus food pantry recently to provide students immediate help and connections to local resources for permanent solutions — all with cutting-edge technology to ensure the process is quick, easy and confidential.

Last year, Century College faculty noticed something startling: All their candy dishes were empty.

“We see more and more students whose basic needs are not being met,” said Linda Baughman-Terry, chair of the school’s Counseling Department.

After meeting with a student who was a single mother, Baughman-Terry replaced her candy with granola bars. She put a note next to the dish: “Please Help Yourself.” Word got out among students and the snacks were gone within 90 minutes.

In October, Jill Greenhalgh, executive director of the Century College Foundation, started talking with Baughman-Terry about students’ food needs and contacted Ann Searles, executive director of the White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf. After meetings and conversations with students, faculty and staff — plus a visit to the Normandale Community College Food Pantry in Bloomington — a decision was made: Century College with the assistance of the White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf, would create its own on-campus food pantry to help struggling students in need of meals and snacks.

The college’s food pantry opened March 26 and is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays in Room 1010 on West Campus. Current students facing financial difficulties can take home a bag of nutritious food at least once a month and will be connected with other community resources for help with longer-term solutions. The pantry’s ordering, tracking and student registration will be managed by innovative software provided by the White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf.

“Our mission is to provide food and support to our neighbors in need, in partnership with the communities of White Bear. It just makes sense that we help Century set up a food pantry because of our successes and expertise,” Searles said.

Greenhalgh has raised $5,000 to start the food pantry, but another $5,000 is needed.
Judy Lykins, who directs the Service Learning program at Century College, operates pantry and her students staff it.

Alison Schram, operations manager for the White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf, will set up and implement the processes and procedures for operation of the Century College food pantry.

Century College has more than 12,000 students, 50 percent of which are Pell-grant eligible, coming from households at or below the poverty level.

For more information or how to support the Century College food pantry, please call Jill Greenhalgh at 651-779-3338 or go to www.century.edu/foundation or call Searles at 651-407-5310 or go to www.whitebearfoodshelf.org.

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