SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) has become the first college in Massachusetts to join the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts as a member agency. Starting this month, STCC will be a part of the region’s food-assistance network.
STCC was also the first college in Massachusetts to join the Stop & Shop School Food Pantry Program, which provides donations to support the college’s food pantry, known as the Ram Mini Mart. Students who qualify can visit the on-campus Center for Access Services (CAS) to pick up free meals, groceries, and other necessities stored in the Ram Mini Mart.
Stop & Shop offers a school-based food-pantry program to help reduce hunger among students in communities served by the company’s more than 400 stores in the Northeast.
The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts provides healthy food to 173 members of the network in Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties. These independent pantries, meal sites, and shelters are on the front lines, providing food and other resources to individuals, families, seniors, children, college students, people with disabilities, and veterans.
Vice President of Student Affairs Darcey Kemp said CAS is an invaluable resource for STCC students, providing them with support and resources including free school supplies, food, and household goods. “STCC values its partnerships with community organizations like the Food Bank and companies like Stop & Shop. We sincerely appreciate their support.”
José Lopez-Figueroa, director of CAS at STCC, added that “we are thrilled to partner with the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and continue our partnership with Stop & Shop. They are helping in our effort to ensure that no student is sitting in class hungry or goes home with nothing to eat.”
Samantha Plourd, dean of Enrollment, Retention and Completion, said STCC is grateful to have the Food Bank as a new resource. “Becoming a member agency of the Food Bank is a great help to our students facing food insecurity. As a member, STCC can access thousands of pounds of healthy food for our pantry, almost entirely for free.”
The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts expanded its operations in September with a move to Chicopee. At more than 60,000 square feet, the new headquarters is double the size of its former building in Hatfield.
“The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is excited to welcome our first campus pantry to our member agency network,” said Michelle Geoffroy, the organization’s Agency Relations manager, noting that more than one in three college and university students faces food insecurity, and only 20% utilize Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. “This partnership will allow us to support STCC’s established food pantry and help us both to reach more of our neighbors experiencing food insecurity in Springfield and surrounding communities.”
Jennifer Barr, director of Community Relations at Stop & Shop, added that “Stop & Shop is so proud to continue its support for STCC’s on-campus pantry, and we congratulate the school on its continued success in doing groundbreaking work to ensure its students have access to the food and resources they need to succeed in the classroom. As a longtime partner of the Food Bank for Western Massachusetts as well, we love seeing these groups come together to help put an end to student hunger.”