A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Gateway’s ‘Food for Thought Pantry’ supported struggling student families this Thanksgiving

Gateway Community & Technical College’s Food for Thought Pantry is supporting nearly 50 struggling student families this Thanksgiving.
“Gateway has been my support system throughout my entire academic career,” said Gateway student Tricia Kendall. “Whether it was help with tutoring, Christmas assistance, housing, or food, like this Thanksgiving meal kit, all of this assistance has helped me to worry less about my personal finances and be a successful student.”

Gateway student Tricia Kendall

The food pantry distributed 48 Thanksgiving meal boxes to students in need. The Thanksgiving meal kits included stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, mac-and-cheese, vegetables, and of course a turkey, everything needed for a great Thanksgiving meal.

The Gateway Alumni Association collected donations for the pantry totaling in 261 pounds of food. The Thanksgiving meal boxes would not have been possible without generous support from Kroger.

Because 46 percent of Gateway’s nontraditional students earn income below the poverty threshold level, and one-third of students report making less than $10,000 annually – despite their independent status – the food pantry is a critical part of Gateway’s intent to remove nonacademic barriers to program completion.

Campus hunger is an issue at a vast majority of postsecondary institutions, and Gateway is no exception.

Gateway serves, in no small part, a vulnerable population of low to moderate-income students, and a lot of nontraditional students who typically balance family obligations and full- or part-time employment. Gateway students were disproportionately affected by the pandemic-caused mass furloughs in service and retail industries, and the economic crisis that has followed. It highlighted the need for food pantry services which saw a 30 percent increase in student requests as soon as the crisis began.
“At Gateway, we are committed to removing barriers for our students, many of whom balance family obligations with full and part-time employment,” said Dr. Fernando Figueroa, Gateway President. “We want to ensure our students can have a great holiday meal with their families.”
During this calendar year, the food pantry has served 138 students. Students enrolled and taking classes, faculty, and staff are eligible to utilize the food pantry. The food pantry operates similarly to grocery pick-up, accepting online orders.
Gateway’s Food for Thought Pantry was created to help remove non-academic barriers for Gateway students, giving them the best opportunity to stay in school and complete their education or career training.

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