Bucks County Community College recently welcomed Pennsylvania First Lady Frances Wolf to the Newtown Campus for a tour and discussion with students and staff about college hunger.
Wolf addressed the growing need for resources for students experiencing food and basic needs insecurity. She discussed Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed $1 million investment to address college hunger, and $200 million investment to create the Nellie Bly Scholarship Program in the 2022-23 state budget.
“Too many college students are overworked and underserved as they pursue futures that can benefit all of Pennsylvania,” said Wolf. “With proposals like the Hunger-Free Campus initiative and Nellie Bly, we have an opportunity to alleviate the burden of hunger for the students who need it most and help them pay for the stifling costs of higher education.”
Student Jocelyn Walters told Wolf that she had faced food insecurity most of her life, but the support from Bucks County Community College helped her focus on her classes and taking care of her newborn son.
“A lot of the food pantries have expired food and no fresh produce,” said the Quakertown resident who is majoring in social work. “But I know that when I reach out to Bucks, they can help me with a grocery store gift card, which is a huge help for me as a new mom. Now I want to devote my life to helping people, because of the way the people at this college have helped me.”
An estimated 36 percent of students know someone who dropped out of college due to food insecurity during the pandemic. Roughly 52 percent of students who faced food or housing insecurity in 2020 did not apply for support because they did not know how.
Wolf toured the Bucks campus, learning about how the college is addressing the basic needs of its students with programs like Keystone Education Yields Success. Funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services at the state’s community colleges, KEYS helps students who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in their pursuit of post-secondary education by:
– Providing career counseling, tutoring and academic support, and help with financial aid
– Facilitating support services, such as child care, textbooks and transportation assistance, available through the County Assistance Office or the college
– Connecting students to other community service agencies
In addition, Bucks County Community College developed a gift card program that enables students to make their own food choices, has a fully stocked pantry and “standing pantries,” which are shelves conveniently placed across campus that offer snacks and toiletries.
Following the tour, Wolf joined students and staff for a discussion on college hunger. She shared the governor’s budget proposals to confront the substantial costs of college and food insecurity among college students, encouraging the college community to contact their elected officials and urge them to act on behalf of Pennsylvania’s students.