BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — A year ago, several professors and teachers at Kellogg Community College began asking school administrators about what options the school had to provide students with free food, said Alex Carlson.
Carlson, who is the program and event coordinator with the KCC Foundation, said faculty noticed that their students were coming to class hungry.
Coaches reiterated the same thing and said that they were buying their players food so they can remain healthy, she added.
“You assume that everyone has access to a roof over their heads and food in their kitchen. And, that is not the case,” Carlson said during an interview with FOX 17 last Tuesday. “We’re seeing that a lot more at colleges, especially with community colleges.”
So, in February 2019 the KCC Foundation created the Bruin Basket Project in response to the faculty’s request, she said.
They put together food stations in several locations on campus that consisted of four-six bins, or baskets, filled with snacks and other packaged foods.
“Sometimes I find Trail Mix,” said freshman Ryan Vought. “Then a couple of times I’ve seen apples in there. There’s oatmeal and different stuff that can be stored for long periods of time.”
Vought, who also plays baseball for KCC, said that the stations have been helpful for him because it allows him to eat before practice.
“With the busy schedule I have with classes and being a part of a couple of clubs and baseball, it’s kind of hard to find time to fit in food and eating in between that,” he said. “But, these are convenient because there’s a couple different locations you can find them at.”
Carlson said they put the food stations in common areas on campus so that students, who are experiencing hunger or not, can easily access them. That way those are experiencing hunger can remain anonymous.
“There are reports out there that say about 30 percent of college students are hungry,” she said. “I would tell you that those numbers are pretty low. Because what that means is that people have to identify that they are hungry. And that’s hard for a lot of people.”
She said one of the main reasons students experience hunger is because of competing priorities.
“Between tuition, rent, phone, gas and all that, we just don’t really have the money for it,” said freshman Alora Drake. “So it’s nice to have the campus looking out for us and realizing we don’t have the money for it.”
Drake said at times it’s hard to even go to McDonald’s because she doesn’t have the extra cash. S,o she checks the baskets and takes what she can. And in a few occasions, she’s even donated to it.
Carlson said the project began with a few donations from the KCC Foundation.
“We’ve also received grants, private donations from companies, donations from faculty and staff here at KCC as well as donations from community organizations and communities members,” Carlson said. “That’s how we pay for it because we want to make sure that it is free for those that need.”
Carlson added that they stock the baskets twice a week and the 'food is gone just as quickly.'
Empty baskets is the goal, she said.
“Sometimes it’s just about calorie replacement. So Easy-Mac is probably not the healthiest thing to eat,” Carlson said. “But if you’ve been working all night and then you have class all day and you haven’t eaten anything, it’ll at least get you through. It’s important to eat so you can go to class and learn.”
***If you'd like to make a donaton, call the KCC Foundation at 269-965-4161 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.***