09:31 AM

STC officially opens campus food pantry at Pecan Campus

Plans include extending pantry to Mid-Valley and Starr County campuses by 2018

There is no reason that students should have to choose between their education and getting something to eat. They can and should have both, according to coordinators of a new food pantry at South Texas College.

STC held a grand opening and ribbon cutting for its new Student Food Pantry on Thursday, Nov. 16.

The new food pantry, housed at the Pecan Campus Building H second floor in room H218, has been established with the support of Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley, Inc., and is filled with non-perishable food items. STC plans to expand the food pantry services to the Mid-Valley and Starr County campuses for the 2018-2019 school year.

In attendance from Food Bank RGV, Inc. at the ribbon cutting was DeAnne Economedes, Interim CEO & COO of Food Bank RGV, Libby Salinas, Food Bank Chief Programs Officer, and Omar I. Rodriguez, Food Bank Manager of Communications and Advocacy.

“It makes me very proud of South Texas College that we have such caring and compassion for our students,” said STC President Dr. Shirley A. Reed. “We have recognized that we have to address the reality of hunger in our students. It’s a serious issue. Many people in the community don’t realize just how serious it is. Many of our students come from very humble and working families, or single families.

“Just having access to a meal, along with healthy nutrition can make a difference as to whether they can pursue college or not. We see our students having to make that choice every day, and it’s heartbreaking,” Dr. Reed said.

Coordinators of the food pantry at STC say services to students extend beyond food donations. By connecting them with counselors as well as staff at the college, students can have potential access to a wide range of assistance that can enable them to succeed while attending school.

“We want to stabilize students who are hungry, but it’s not just about handing out food to students. We feel that it’s our responsibility to connect them to the services in our community including Food Stamps or any type of housing assistance,” said Paul Hernandez, Dean of Student Affairs at STC. “This is really a project between Student Activities and our counseling services. The counselors will do the risk and needs assessment, and then Student Activities will maintain this food bank.

“We are already receiving quite a bit of referrals from faculty and staff who have now become aware that the pantry is now operational,” he said. “We are ready to service our college community. The key component here to help the student stabilize their life situation.”

Students can contact any representative from Student Activities or counselor to begin the process to request assistance. The process is anonymous.  For more information contact: Elibariki Nguma, Director of Student Activities and Wellness at South Texas College at 956-872-2515 or bariki@southtexascollege.edu

“The Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley is completely funding this for one whole year. We know that there is a need here, and we hope that it will expand to the rest of STC’s campuses as well,” said Food Bank RGV, Inc. CPO Salinas. “We are always looking for innovative ways to bring food to clients along with our normal community partners like our non-profits and churches. We are trying to reach into schools, doctor’s offices and clinics to reach clients in other ways.

“We invite anyone who is in touch with the community to come and talk to us and see how we can partner together to continue serving the greater good,” Salinas said.