Here’s why one Columbus college decided to open a food bank for low-income students

Category: News

“This is an important collaboration of two of our clients – Columbus State Community College and the Mid-Ohio Food Bank – that demonstrates the power of a collective vision to make an impact in our community.” – J.D. Beiting, Benefactor Group

Here’s why one Columbus college decided to
open a food bank for low-income students

By Hayleigh Colombo  – Staff reporter, Columbus Business First

Oct 16, 2019

Columbus State Community College now has a new community food bank on its campus for low-income students and neighbors.

The Mid-Ohio Market, dedicated Wednesday at its 400 Grove St. location, was driven by the needs of students and the school’s desire to keep them enrolled at CSCC even if they are facing life challenges like poverty, officials said.

Nearly two-thirds of CSCC students report food insecurity issues, according to the college, and those issues can often be a barrier for earning a degree or credential.

“We have students who have 3.5 or 4.0 grade point averages, and they stop attending Columbus State,” said Desiree Polk-Bland, executive dean for advising and student support for the college. “It’s not the academic challenges. It’s non-academic barriers. 

“We’ve done a lot in our academic support areas. Our next game-changing step is going to be non-academic supports. How do we tackle systemic issues such as poverty? If we can start to eliminate the life barriers, this is what enhances the workforce.”

Supporting students through college will have a long-term positive impact for the Central Ohio workforce, Polk-Bland said.

“When our students graduate, they stay in the community, they build the community, and they are the workforce of the community,” Polk-Bland said. 

The food bank is also an effort to lift up the entire neighborhood around the community college. More than 60% of the people in neighborhoods surrounding the college are food insecure, according to CSCC. 

Eligible shoppers will have to earn less than 200% of the federal poverty level. That equates to less than $25,000 annually for an individual.

“Too often, college students – many of whom are supporting families while trying to attend school – do not always know where their next meal will come from,” said Matt Habash, CEO of Mid-Ohio Foodbank, another sponsor of the CSCC food bank. “Because hunger does not work in isolation, Mid-Ohio Markets can serve as an important site for access to additional resources, helping students and area neighbors when life happens.”

The Market, housed in a converted former maintenance equipment garage owned by the college, is open on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and one Saturday per month. It is will (sic) eventually expand to be open between 40 and 60 hours per week. 

CSCC faculty, staff and students will have volunteer opportunities to help run the market, and students will have paid work-study opportunities to work there. 

Fresh “take-and-go” meals will be prepared by hospitality management and culinary arts students at the college. And tips at the new bakery, cafe and restaurant in Cameron Mitchell Hall will support The Market’s operations.

The Market was also supported by Cardinal Health Foundation, which gave a $700,000 grant. Kroger and Wasserstrom provided in-kind support of grocery equipment.

View the article online at Columbus Business First.