CCAC South Campus fights hunger with Campus Cupboard South Food Pantry

PITTSBURGH—Today The Community College of Allegheny County’s (CCAC) South Campus held a ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony for the Campus Cupboard South Food Pantry. The celebration included remarks by CCAC President Dr. Quintin Bullock, CCAC South Campus President Charlene Newkirk, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank President and CEO Lisa Scales and Jefferson Regional Foundation Executive Director Mary Phan-Gruber. A distribution of food to students took place following the event.

Last fall, officials of CCAC and the Food Bank entered into a partnership to establish a food pantry that will serve the growing number of CCAC South Campus students and their families who are experiencing food insecurity. The Campus Cupboard South Food Pantry is the first Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank-affiliated food pantry to operate on a college campus.

“When one in seven adults and one in five children in our communities are struggling with hunger, it is a significant issue we all should be concerned about,” said Scales. “Through key partnerships such as this one with CCAC, I am confident that hunger is a solvable issue. We are excited that the Campus Cupboard South Food Pantry is approaching the fight against food insecurity in this way and are hopeful that it will become a model for other college-based food assistance programs in our region.”

Following a soft launch last fall, the food pantry served with the help of student volunteers, approximately 25 students and a total of 75 family members in monthly distributions. CCAC officials expect the number of students served to rise in response to the growing need for food assistance in the Mon Valley region. Newkirk noted that eight local neighborhoods are designated as “distressed” regarding access to resources, according to the Allegheny County Department of Human Services. Also, more than one-quarter of CCAC South students have an expected family contribution of zero on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

“CCAC’s South Campus serves a substantial number of economically vulnerable students who are often lacking access to groceries and other resources,” said Newkirk. “With the help of our community partners, the pantry will enable us to serve a greater number of students who are in need of food assistance.”

The pantry, housed in a former community education kitchen, will be updated with grant money from the Jefferson Regional Foundation, and upon completion will feature a renovated space with refrigerators, freezers and shelving to store food. The grant money from the Jefferson Regional Foundation will also help sustain the pantry going forward. Food distributions will be held on the third Wednesday of each month and qualifying recipients will receive three days worth of food, based on their family size. The pantry will also have emergency boxes of pre-selected food on hand for students who may be experiencing an emergency and can’t wait until the next distribution date. In every distribution, there will be an emphasis on fresh produce, some of which will be harvested from a community garden at South Campus maintained by faculty, staff and students.

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