RRCC earns Distinction as a Hunger Free Campus by LeadMN

August 25, 2020

Rainy River Community College (RRCC) has earned the distinction of becoming a Hunger Free Campus by LeadMN. This is an initiative to address food insecurity on community and technical colleges.

The 2020 “Hope Center’s #RealCollege Survey” National report shows that 45% of college students in the United States are food insecure. This statistic is consistent with recent Minnesota data that shows 37% of college students have experienced food insecurity, meaning they do not have a steady source of food or cannot afford to feed themselves or their families. RRCC staff and faculty believe that no student should have to go hungry while pursuing their education.

In 2019 the Minnesota State Legislature passed and Governor Walz signed the Hunger Free Campus act was passed.Today, over 16 colleges have earned the designation by serving over 6,596 students through the campus pantries, distributing over 61,600 pounds of food to students, providing emergency assistance funding to 260 students, and more.

A Hunger Free Campus designation signifies a college that is actively taking strides to reduce food insecurity amongst students. In order to be awarded the Hunger Free Campus designation, RRCC needed to meet the following criteria:

  • Has a food pantry, partnership with a food bank, or some type of food distribution system on campus available to students.
  • Has a designated staff person on campus to educate students on SNAP and other public services aimed to reduce food insecurity.
  • Provides emergency funds to assist students who may be experiencing basic needs insecurity.
  • Has a taskforce dedicated to addressing food insecurity concerns.
  • Hosts or participates in at least one hunger awareness event each year.

The central component of RRCC’s Hunger Free Campus campaign is the Voyageur Food Pantry located on campus. It was started in February 2019 as a community collaboration with Backus Community Center, Falls Hunger Coalition, Second Harvest Food Bank, Ruby’s Pantry, a local family, and RRCC.

Approximately 20 students visit the pantry each day. The pantry has a variety of items including fruit, granola bars, cereal pasta, household and school supplies and more. RRCC Retention Specialist, Amy Amundsen, said, “The students at RRCC are fortunate to have community members and organizations that recognize the need for The Voyageur Food Pantry and work diligently to keep it stocked. A local International Falls family has been an integral part of The Pantry since its start and continue to ensure that our students have access to the food that they need.”

Cash contributions have also come in from RRCC faculty, staff and students, as well as local community members. If you would like to donate, contact Amy Amundsen at RRCC 218-285-2226, amy.amundsen@rainyriver.edu.

To learn more about the designation, visit https://bit.ly/3j0mcqQ. To learn more about the Voyageur Food Pantry, visit https://bit.ly/2VcyfYE.

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