NVC Celebrates Grand Opening of its Food Pantry

On April 25, Northwest Vista College faculty and staff celebrated the grand opening of its new food pantry. To date, over 100 students have used the new pantry and 1,300 pounds of food have already been distributed.

NVC President Dr. Ric Baser said at the grand opening that this new pantry will help many students who sacrifice just to attend college.

Twenty-seven-year-old Keiko Hashimoto knows sacrifice all too well. She may seem like an unlikely candidate to visit the new food pantry, which is tucked away in Huisache Hall. She works part time at the college and always greets visitors with a smile when welcoming them into Manzanillo Hall.

Underneath the smile, Keiko and her family are considered food insecure – the new phrase given to people who don’t have enough to eat on a daily basis. She has visited the food pantry three times and the last time she was able to provide produce for her family’s dinner. Her parents just received temporary custody of her five nieces ages 10-15. Growing from a family of three to eight has made her family food insecure.

“What I make (working) just pays for my bills,” Keiko said. “There’s not a lot left over for food. If it comes down to it, I will use my credit card just to eat. There were moments in class where I was so hungry and didn’t have energy and the food pantry helped save me.”

NVC’s Food Pantry is designed for students just like Keiko – giving them enough to eat to help them stay in college and graduate.

While NVC is located in a more affluent area than other parts of the city, the number of students who say they don’t have enough food to eat on a daily basis keeps rising. The current schedule for the NVC Food Pantry is to stay open five days a week and the first Saturday of each month. The pantry is open to both students and employees in need. They can visit twice a month and fill up a bag with food and other necessities, such as diapers and toiletries.

NVC’s Food Pantry is one of many that have opened doors on college campuses over the past few years. A February 2019 article in US News & World Report said “more than 650 food pantries had opened up or were in development on campuses nationwide” due to the rising food insecurity college students are quietly going through.

The US Government Accountability Office said in a December 2018 report that the traditional full-time college student who depends on their parent is in the minority. Today, it says about half of all undergraduate students in 2016 were considered financially independent from their parents. About 22% had dependent children themselves, and 14% were single parents. The report added that 64% of college students in 2016 worked at least part time while enrolled, and a quarter worked full time.

Student demographics at NVC also illustrate there’s a strong need for resources beyond teaching. Just two years ago, 41.8% of NVC’s 16,752 student enrollment was considered economically disadvantaged. Overall, about 72% of all Alamo Colleges students received financial aid for the fall of 2016.

A survey done earlier this month with 324 NVC students also indicated the need for additional support. Sixty-four percent of the students skipped a meal, ate less, or chose less nutritional food due to cost, and 82% worried about not having enough money to pay for school.

With the help of the San Antonio Food Bank, the NVC Food Pantry stocks its pantry with both dry goods, perishables and nonfood items such as diapers and hygiene products. Also the college has set up a dedicated fund that employees can donate to in order to support the pantry.

Along with NVC, San Antonio College, Palo Alto College, Northeast Lakeview and St. Philip’s College also have food pantries to help students. On May 7-8, the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center will donate a pound of food to the pantry for every pint of blood they receive.

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