Many MHCC students unsure of food and housing
A surprising number of Oregon community college students don't always have enough to eat or a regular place to sleep, a new study has found. Students at Mt. Hood Community College are only slightly better off than the state average.
A survey of Mt. Hood Community College students revealed 38% said they experienced food insecurity in the prior 30 days and 48% experienced housing insecurity in the previous year. Additionally, 18% of MHCC students who responded to the survey said that they had been homeless at some point in the previous year.
"There are times when you need things up front for class and sometimes that means having to make a choice that you would really rather not — spend money on textbooks or food," Barry Morganti, a machine tool technology student at MHCC said in a statement.
The survey, called the Real College Survey, was conducted by Hope Center for College, Community and Justice. More than 900 MHCC students participated. Students completed the survey last fall. Statewide, the Hope Center's survey includes responses from 8,100 students from 14 of Oregon's community colleges
Statewide, of students, 41% said that they experienced some degree of food insecurity or were uncertain of where their next meal will come from, sometime during the month prior to taking the survey.
Additionally, 52% of students surveyed in Oregon's community colleges said they were "housing insecure" in the last year, meaning at some point they did not have a safe, affordable and consistent place to live. About 20% of students identified themselves has having been homeless.
MHCC operates an on-campus food pantry out of the Student Union to help students who sometimes have to make these hard decisions, school officials said. Barney's Pantry works in cooperation with the Oregon Food Bank and in 2019 served 1,384 students and distributed 1,816 pounds of food.
Barney's Pantry also connects students to other campus resources that address housing, childcare and other household needs that might prevent them from staying in school and completing college.
Last year, MHCC used community donations to purchase two commercial refrigerators, so Barney's Pantry can offer yogurt, milk and other items that need to be refrigerated.
"Students who face food insecurity tend to struggle academically. We recognize that this is an issue on our community college campuses across Oregon, so we can take the necessary steps to offer the support these students need so they can succeed," Lisa Skari, MHCC president said in a statement.
Barney's Pantry always accepts donations of food and cash. Especially needed items include peanut butter, fresh fruit, grab-and-go meals, snack packs and microwavable items. Feminine hygiene items and other hygiene items are also needed.
Donations can be taken to the MHCC Student Union, Room AC1051, on the main campus at 26000 S.E. Stark St. To make a monetary donation to Barney's Pantry visit: mhcc.edu/ways-to-give.
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