Food insecurity, hunger and homelessness are real issues throughout our nation, and community college campuses are no exception. Nontraditional students make up over 73% of the student population at Hillsborough Community College, meaning that our typical student is not a recent high school graduate who is supported by their parents. In fact, fewer than one in five HCC students have parents who are able to pay all of their college expenses. More and more students live on a budget that is close to or at the poverty level, and not having access to food is not uncommon.
In 2017, the HCC Foundation partnered with faculty, staff, student government and HCC leadership to develop a program that will rise to meet this challenge— “Food 2 Finish.” This initiative was put in place to offer direct aid and support to any student, faculty member or staff member who is undergoing the hardship of food insecurity. We now provide emergency relief packs and resources at all five campuses, as well as diapers and period products, partnering with Feeding Tampa Bay, The Junior League of Tampa and the United Food Bank of Plant City.
Food 2 Finish aims to eliminate this barrier to students’ success while they are in school and provide the knowledge and resources to stop hunger for good, providing resources designed to address individual short-term needs as well as referrals to services for long-term solutions.