TAMPA, Fla. — Cameron Johnson is feeding his friends. The Hillsborough Community College student volunteers at a new food pantry on the school’s Dale Mabry campus.
“The people that this is helping are the people that I hang around with, they’re my friends, my colleagues,” says Johnson. “It’s not easy to pay for college and go to school full-time.”
The HCC food pantry helped 750 students last semester, handing out more than 3,500 pounds of food.
The pantry comes at a time when almost half of college students are “food insecure,” with the highest number enrolled at community colleges.
Rebecca Todd, an anthropology professor at HCC and co-founder of the food pantry, says the pantry helps students bridge the tough life gap between high school and college, between living at home and living alone.
“If your basic biological needs aren’t being met, none of the rest of the stuff, the stuff we enjoy, the good stuff, can be taken care of,” says Todd. “In the classroom it’s a little more obvious when students are complaining that they can’t concentrate because they’re so hungry, because they’re stomachs are literally grumbling.”