Student hunger prompts local college to open food pantry

CCRI student and food pantry staffer Leyshell Williams (at right) talks with donor Kim Keck inside the new facility at the Lincoln campus. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

By Steve Klamkin WPRO News

A local college has opened a food pantry to help counter a rising incidence of hunger among its students.

Citing growing food insecurity, the Community College of Rhode Island opened a food pantry offering canned foods and other nonperishable foods as well as household and personal hygiene produces in a room just off the cafeteria in its Lincoln campus.

Food is currently delivered upon request to three other CCRI campuses with plans to open food pantries at Providence, Warwick and Newport.

“National studies show that one in every four community college students in this country experiences food insecurity regularly,” said Meghan Hughes, President of the CCRI system.

“So think about that, at some point every day one in four of our students goes hungry,” Hughes said. “And the number gets worse for first-generation students and our students of color, with nearly six out of every ten going hungry every day.”

Students welcome the food pantry.

“I definitely believe it allows students to continue their classes and finish their degrees,” said Leyshell Williams, 22, a fourth-semester student at CCRI who helps to run the food pantry.

The food pantry was opened with personal donations from chief executive officers of two local insurance companies and their spouses, Kim Keck of BlueCross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island and Bob DiMuccio of Amica Mutual Insurance Company. Both said they would encourage other executives to make similar contributions.