The holiday season is dedicated to spreading cheer for the greater good. We spend time making memories over festive meals, shopping for the perfect gifts for loved ones and donating to our favorite charities.
But the need for charitable giving doesn’t diminish after the holidays for those in need—including college students choosing to forgo meals in order to fund their education.
According to a recent Inside Higher Education story, a 2018 survey of 43,000 students at 66 institutions reported that 42 percent of community college students were food insecure in the 30 days preceding the survey. Although the issue is national, the impact of food insecurity affects the success of students on a local level as well.
While the Hawaiʻi Promise Scholarship helps make college affordable by closing the financial gap, student organizations at a few of the University of Hawaiʻi Community Colleges work tirelessly to keep the spirit of the holiday season alive throughout the year by giving the gift of a good meal to their peers through campus food pantries.
The food pantry at Windward Community College, the first of its kind in the UH System, provides food for any student in need. Depending on the donations received, students create food packs that can be picked up at numerous locations on campus.
“Students may choose by whom or where they are more comfortable picking up their packages from,” said Kaahu Alo, Windward CC student life coordinator. “The food can be picked up by any student at any time without having to speak to or notify anyone. This system was created this way for students to remain anonymous if they choose to.”
UH Maui College
The Hui Haumana club at UH Maui College has partnered with the Student Success Committee and Maui Food Bank. The club organizes car washes, silent auctions and other fundraising activities with proceeds going to the food bank, which then distributes food back to Hui Haumana.
“Everything is confidential,” said UH Maui College staff member Iris Latu. “When a student comes up to us, there’s a very simple form for them to sign and they get an ID number with a card. I tell them if they come for food and anyone asks for their name, just show your card. Our philosophy is, ‘You’re hungry, we help feed you.’”
Hānai iā Leeward, meaning to sustain, is the up-and-coming food pantry at Leeward Community College. They are operating under the belief that well-nourished students lead to enriched minds.
“This program comes from the heart of student life,” said Lexer Chou, Leeward CC student life coordinator. “Through Hānai iā Leeward, our students will feel that our college cares about their entire well-being.”
How to help
The UH System is currently in the process of conducting a system-wide survey in order to further create viable, sustainable solutions for this issue at every campus.
Want to share in the joy of giving beyond the holiday season? Contact a UH food pantry representative.