The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Food pantry assists students in dire need

Alex Hoben/The Collegian A child carries a box around looking at the produce on display at the Fresh Food Market on NE Campus. NE, South, NW and SE have monthly produce markets available to registered students.

TCC helping community with multiple food banks

Austin Folkertsma
campus editor

NE, South and SE’s food pantries offer free food to registered students who may be struggling to find a way to eat.

The pantry on NE and South is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the one on SE is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Each month, there is a fresh produce market on the three campuses, but times and dates vary.

A survey given by the Home Center for College, Community and Justice to 86,000 students showed that 70% of two-year college students were food insecure, housing insecure or homeless and 61% of four-year college students were either food insecure, housing insecure or homeless.

“Pre-COVID, we were having an average of about 250 to 300 students a month in foot traffic and, in these fresh food markets, we usually have about 150 to 250 in a two-hour period alone,” NE food bank coordinator Cheryl North said. “I started the first food pantry on this campus — the NE Campus — in spring 2016,” North said.

She said she had the idea for it a couple of years before the spring 2016 semester, but it took a couple of years to happen and build space for it.

“Right now we have food pantries on SE and South Campus, and there’s some space being built in the new architectural design on NW campus for them to have one. We’re working to have food pantries on all campuses” North said.

She said in the meantime, if a person is registered at TCC, they don’t have to go to their home campus. They can go to any campus and take advantage of the food pantry.

“It’s hard enough to go to college, but if you have to go to college and worry about where your next meal is coming from, that’s a burden that we don’t want our students to face, and it’s a burden we can help with,” North said.

NE student Silvia Pardo said the food pantry has been a lot of help to her and her family because she lost her job during COVID.

“I worked for the pantry a long time ago in 2017, and it was a much smaller space then,” NE student employee Nicholas Davis said. “We helped a fair number of students, but not as many of them knew we were here.”

He said he was excited when he came back. There was a much bigger space and a lot more people were being helped at the food pantry, but he wants to help more people.

“It’s just a good thing to do for the community because even if somebody doesn’t specifically need it, it just relieves pressure, so this being here means they don’t have to spend any money on food,” Davis said.

Davis said there’s also an opportunity to grab a sack lunch at NLIB that’s put together by the food pantry if it isn’t open. He said the food pantry will put together about 25 to 30 sack lunches of food at a time.

“This woman right here,” referring to Cheryl North, “nabbed me and said ‘Hey, would you like to do your service project?’ and that’s how I started here, and it’s been now a semester and a half,” NE student employee Susan Wares said.

She said she was raised to give back to the community. Growing up in a military family, she didn’t have any money, so working for the food pantry is an opportunity for her to give back.

More information about the food pantries can be found on TCC’s website.

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