Food Insecurity at HFC

Photo of HFC's Hawk Nest food pantry
Hawks' Nest food pantry | Photo courtesy of HFC Marketing

“You don’t have to choose between books and food. Have both.” This phrase, the slogan for the Hawk’s Nest Student Food Pantry, represents the financial choices of many students at HFC. The Hawk’s Nest food bank was created to address the food needs of students. To use the food bank, you must be enrolled in at least one credit hour at HFC.

Food insecurity is very real to a lot of students. According to a study found by Association of American Colleges and Universities, food insecurity caused community college and first-generation students to skip classes, withdraw from courses, or even opt out of buying required textbooks. To be hungry and food insecure are two different things. Being hungry is just a state of discomfort or pain caused by a lack of food, whereas food insecurity is a limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods. The same study concluded that “50 percent of community college students and 47 percent of four-year college students reported food insecurity.”

In order to combat the growing problem of food insecurity, Student Activity Associate, Mandy Earl, oversees this process. Organized in January, 2016, Earl explains that the Hawk’s Nest has fed about 385 students since then, 147 of them in Fall 2018, receiving about 630 overall visits. Just within the current school year, they have collected 4,200 pounds of food and personal care items, over 100 reusable bags, and $1,700 in financial donations.

This program relies heavily on donations like monetary offerings and food drives. Donation drives on campus take place during the fall and winter semesters. You can also drop off items anytime during the Hawks’ Nest normal business hours which are Monday- Thursday, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or contact Mandy Earl to arrange a pickup. If you consider contributing, nonperishable food items (they cannot accept expired food items), toiletries, and reusable canvas bags would be a great way to start.

The Hawk’s Nest organizers stress that the food pantry helps real people. An older woman who chooses to be anonymous, was taking in her grandchildren. Now, her household income, that was hardly sufficient for one, is being spread among several individuals, leaving her feeling defeated and discouraged. She heard about HFC’s student food pantry and was able to seek help through the school. She found signing up incredibly easy. She appreciates the food pantry especially since her Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funding has been cut back. SNAP funding is uncertain for millions of Americans receiving supplemental food assistance due to the government shutdown. Prior to the shutdown, Congress funded SNAP through March.

The Hawks’ Nest is located in building L. First-time users will need to bring their HFC student ID card, a copy of their current semester academic schedule (paper or mobile), and will need to fill out an intake form. Once a student fills out the form, he or she will be registered for the academic year and will get a membership card that can be used to get food and supplies up to once a week (maximum four times per month). The Hawks’ Nest works on the honor system, so students are not required to document need.

The Hawks Nest organizers want students to feel comfortable using the free food pantry and will ensure the anonymity of anyone who visits. The Hawks Nest staff and volunteers encourage those on campus who have stable meals, to consider donating items to help those who do not.