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CCAC maintains food pantry at Boyce Campus for students, families

Natasha Lindstrom
| Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, 6:39 p.m.
Community College of Allegheny County student Lucretia Finch shops at the CCAC Boyce Campus Food Cupboard in Monroeville. Campus officials announced Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017 that the free food pantry will be open from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month in response to needs demonstrated by students and their families.
Courtesy of CCAC
Community College of Allegheny County student Lucretia Finch shops at the CCAC Boyce Campus Food Cupboard in Monroeville. Campus officials announced Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017 that the free food pantry will be open from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month in response to needs demonstrated by students and their families.

Students struggling to feed themselves and their families now can take a monthly trip to a free food pantry at Community College of Allegheny County's Boyce Campus in Monroeville, college officials announced Tuesday.

Campus officials said they decided to make the food pantry a permanent fixture after confirming its need during temporary “pop-up pantries” held during the spring and summer.

The service aims to provide assistance to cash-strapped students and, in exchange, bolster the college's retention and graduation rates, said Yvonne Burns, dean of student development at CCAC Boyce Campus. About 4,000 students attend classes there.

“We're looking for retention. A lot of students, they stop out or they cannot focus on their academics because their personal needs aren't being met,” Burns said. “This way, they don't have to worry about having the food in their home for their children or family or whoever they're feeding so that they can concentrate.”

In August and September, at least 50 returning students made use of the food pantry — which stocks everything from fresh vegetables, frozen ground beef and packaged fruit to canned tuna, peanut butter and ramen noodles.

Going forward, any CCAC student in need of food assistance can stop by to stock up on supplies at a discreet location on the second Thursday of each month.

Students with more urgent needs can request an emergency supply when the pantry is closed, and officials may increase its availability to twice a month.

Burns said she expects participation to grow once word spreads about the pantry's consistent operating schedule.

The Boyce Campus Food Cupboard is an affiliate of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

To get it started, Standard Charitable Foundation contributed a $4,000 grant, the Churchill-Wilkins Rotary pitched in $500 and the Monroeville Rotary club donated canned goods, as did 50 to 100 faculty members.

Last year, the community college system opened a similar food pantry at its South Campus in West Mifflin.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8514, nlindstrom@tribweb.com or on Twitter @NewsNatasha.

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