“When you’re in need, hungry and trying to study, how much canned and dry goods can you eat—it’s always the same—green beans and ramen,” said Camille Vega, Suicide Prevention Coordinator. “Mac and cheese, ramen and canned green beans, without dairy or fresh vegetables, doesn’t make up a nutritionally-balanced diet.”
Vega also serves on the Wellness and Prevention Committee and on the Student Resources Team at Truckee Meadows Community College.
In the Fall, the Food Bank of Northern Nevada (FBNN) announced a five-year Partner Agency Capacity Building Grant Program, through the support of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to help FBNN partner agencies increase food assistance for the hungry.
With the help of the TMCC Student Resources Team, Vega applied for a grant to fund two refrigerators that would be able to store cold dairy and fresh produce to supplement the Wizard’s Warehouse food pantries at TMCC. One pantry is located at the Dandini Campus and the other is at TMCC Meadowood Center. Pantries serve under-resourced students and staff in need of food.
The FBNN approved the grant and sent a check to the Student Resources Team on Friday, Jan. 13.
“In the past four months, we’ve served 282 people in Wizard’s Warehouse pantries,” Vega said. “With this grant, we estimate serving 1,128 clients in the next year.”
So far, cold or fresh items have made up slightly more than eight percent of food provided to those who need it. Vega anticipates that the fridges will raise that percentage to 20 percent in 2017, and the impact will be considerable.
“I’ll be measuring this week so that we can find large fridges which still fit in the space at each location, and hopefully the appliances will be delivered around March 6,” Vega said. “We’ll also check the electrical outlet capability in the pantries.”
The Veterans Resource Center (VRC) offered a refrigerator for use in the Dandini Campus Wizard’s Warehouse, which will be returned to the VRC when the new fridges arrive.
“With a fridge, we can offer protein to under-resourced students,” Vega added. “We’ll be able to stock donated frozen ground turkey, eggs, milk and other dairy products, fruits and vegetables, chicken breast. We can freeze bread too, if needed.”
Packaged and dry goods are not as filling or healthy.
“The fresh fruits and vegetables have gone really fast when we’ve had them—the students want those healthy items,” she said. “But they have tight expiration dates and the cold storage will help a lot. The ability to get meat, dairy and vegetables will enable people to prepare a much greater variety of meals.”
Students and Staff Support
Staff and students in need of food assistance are encouraged to visit Wizard’s Warehouse in the Counseling Center during open hours, Red Mountain Building, room 325. Only a minimal amount of information is taken to be eligible.
“We’d like to touch base with them and make sure we connect them to any other resources they’d benefit from, such as signing up for SNAP or employment resources, clothing, or Disability Resource Center services,” Vega said.
SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a federally funded program by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Career and Counseling Center has hired a student worker, Nicholas Allen, to help with taking information and transporting donated food to TMCC’s Wizard’s Warehouse. A representative from the TMCC Meadowood Center will assist with delivery to that location.
“One thing to add is that we use the ‘client choice’ method of distribution, instead of handing someone a bag of pre-chosen items that they might not be able to use if they are on a special diet,” she added.
Additional Donations to Wizard’s Warehouse
Individuals, businesses and organizations have contributed donations of food to the FBNN and Wizard’s Warehouse, Vega added.
“We are very grateful to the many generous donors,” she said. “We also can always use donations of repurposed shopping bags or boxes to carry food items. This is a great way to recycle and reuse. If TMCC staff or students would like to bring us used bags, we’re really thankful for that as well.”
The TMCC Student Resource team is comprised of faculty, staff, students and student services personnel. The team meets monthly to address special needs for students in crisis, including housing, food and emergency funding.
For more information about the many student resources available at TMCC, or to obtain emergency food for staff or students, email firstname.lastname@example.org.