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Barry Morganti is an MHCC student who uses the campus food pantry when paying for an education and paying for food have to become a tough choice.
Barry Morganti is an MHCC student who uses the campus food pantry when paying for an education and paying for food have to become a tough choice.
Survey of Oregon Community Colleges Finds 41% of Students Food Insecure (Photo) - 02/12/20

GRESHAM, Ore. – A significant portion of Oregon community college students say that they do not know where their next meal will come from and that they have experienced some degree of housing insecurity, according to a survey conducted by the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice.

The Hope Center’s Oregon Community Colleges #RealCollege Survey includes responses from 8,100 students from 14 of Oregon’s community colleges in the fall of 2019, including Mt. Hood Community College. Of those students, 41% said that they were some degree of “food insecure,” or uncertain of where their next meal will come from, sometime during the month prior to taking the survey.

Additionally, 52% of students surveyed across Oregon's community colleges said they identified as “housing insecure” in the last year, meaning at some point they were prevented from having a safe, affordable and consistent place to live; 20% of students were homeless.

Over 900 Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC) students participated in the Real College Survey. Of those, 38% said they experienced food insecurity in the prior 30 days and 48% experienced housing insecurity in the previous year. Additionally, 18% of MHCC students who responded to the survey said that they had been homeless at some point in the previous year.

“There are times when you need things up front for class and sometimes that means having to make a choice that you would really rather not – spend money on textbooks or food,” said Barry Morganti, a machine tool technology student at MHCC.

The college operates an on-campus food pantry out of the Student Union to help students who have to make these hard decisions. Barney’s Pantry works in conjunction with the Oregon Food Bank and in 2019 served 1,384 students and distributed 1,816 pounds of food. It also connects students to other campus resources that address housing, childcare and other household issues preventing them from persisting in or completing college.

In an effort to better serve its students, the college purchased two commercial refrigerators with funds from community member donations and the MHCC Foundation last year. More funds were raised by these groups at the end of 2019, with over an additional $21,000 donated for the pantry.

“Students who face food insecurity tend to struggle academically. We recognize that this is an issue on our community college campuses across Oregon, so we can take the necessary steps to offer the support these students need so they can succeed,” said Dr. Lisa Skari, MHCC president.

Barney’s Pantry is always accepting donations. Popular items include peanut butter, fresh fruit, grab-and-go meals, snack packs and microwavable items. Feminine hygiene items and other hygiene items are also always needed. Donations can be taken to the MHCC Student Union (AC1051).

Click here for more information on the Hope Center’s annual #RealCollege Survey. To make a monetary donation to Barney’s Pantry, click here.

View more news releases from Mt. Hood Comm. College.