This fall, 65 Windward Community College students will be provided with a healthy meal every day on campus thanks to Meals with a Mission. The food program, created in August to combat food insecurity and promote student success, recently received an $8,000 grant from the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation, which was generously matched by Professor Emerita Jacquie Maly. Additional funds were raised by the Windward Community College Ambassadors, a group of community members dedicated to promoting the campus.
“Our goal is to feed as many students as possible throughout the semester, so they can focus on their studies, not their hunger,” said Chef Dan Swift from Windward CC’s Uala Leaf Café. “We 100 percent believe that students will be better prepared to achieve their goals with the support from Meals with a Mission. There’s nothing like a good, nutritious meal for boosting creative energy.”
It’s no secret that college students are struggling with food, housing and job insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 50 percent of Windward CC students receive financial aid, food stamps and scholarships to attend college. For many students, it is not enough. The troubling reality is many Windward CC students don’t get enough to eat. Being hungry affects their focus and can impact their grades.
“Providing strong student support like Meals with a Mission has been impactful at Windward. Graduation rates have risen from 6 percent to 28 percent over the past 10 years,” said Chancellor Ardis Eschenberg. “We are so thankful for Hawaiʻi Community Foundation and the ambassadors for alleviating student hunger on our campus. Our community is making community college happen.”
The Windward Community College Ambassadors partnered with Swift and Student Life Counselor Kaʻahu Alo to envision a campus where students hunger only for knowledge and not food. Together, they launched Meals with a Mission, to provide hot, nutritious lunches to students with financial needs.
“Our ambassador group realizes that the food insecurity issue is basic to the success of many of the students. Knowing that, our focus is to ensure the well-being of the student body in terms of nutrition. I, personally, am delighted and honored to support this,” said Nancy Taylor, Windward CC ambassador.
—By Bonnie J. Beatson