College of Southern Maryland’s (CSM) Student Life team hosted its seventh, and final drive-thru food distribution event of the year for CSM students Dec. 8. Approximately 770 pounds of food were passed out to students who expressed a need and pre-registered to come to the Regional Hughesville Campus.
The contactless “Mobile Hawk Feeder” events have been going on since spring – rotating between the college’s campuses in Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties – resulting in 8,735 pounds of food being delivered in 2020. In two cases, deliveries were made to CSM students living in Calvert County who did not have transportation.
“It is hard to believe that when we started these drive-thru events, we were all standing outside in t-shirts,” shared Student Life Coordinator Erika Abell. “Now, nine months later, we’re standing outside bundled up in our warmest coats, it’s almost Winter Break, and so many of our students are still struggling. This pandemic has been so hard, on so many.”
Forbes Magazine contributing writer Afdhel Aziz recently reported that one in three college students experiences food insecurity. “According to a survey of 43,000 college students at 66 schools, 36 percent of students on U.S. college campuses are considered “food insecure,” meaning they do not get enough to eat,” he wrote. “Especially in the age of COVID, where many students from underprivileged backgrounds can’t work the college jobs they need to qualify for SNAP benefits, this problem is greatly exacerbated.”
In his story, Aziz interviewed Founder and CEO of Swipe Out Hunger Rachel Sumekh who challenged readers who may be skeptical of national statistics.
“The reality is that every day, thirty million American children rely on their schools for their breakfast and lunch,” Sumekh said. “Our Kindergarten-12th grade system knows this and thus we have the National School Breakfast and Lunch program. If we truly want to create pathways out of poverty, we need these meals to continue through to our community colleges and four- year schools.”
Since 2017, CSM has offered food provided through Hawk Feeders at each of CSM’s four campuses. Hawk Feeders help address the short-term basic food needs any student may be experiencing. Built by a CSM faculty member Bill Luyster, the Hawk Feeders are stocked through individual donations by faculty, staff and students as well as through food drives, under the adage, “Give what you can, take what you need.”
“I am so proud of our Student Life team, our CSM Student Government Association and CSM’s community partners, who all pitched in to mobilize and create these many, many care packages,” Abell continued. “The partners who have joined us to help us meet the basic needs of our students are our heroes.”
Joining in support have been the First Baptist Church of Waldorf, LifePoint Church of Waldorf’s Pastor Michael and Angela Rogalski; Pastor John Lewis with the Servants of Christ Church; New LifeChurch and the Charles County Department of Social Services, who all donated food. In addition, the CSM Foundation supported the effort through funding from its “Help a Hawk” emergency fund.
“It is an honor to partner with CSM,” said Michael Rogalski. “It is our goal at LifePoint to be a church not just in the community, but FOR the community. We are thankful for the opportunity to make an impact together with CSM.”
“We heard about the food program at CSM from one of our members, [CSM Human Resources Generalist] Nikki Bradburn,” shared First Baptist Church of Waldorf Pastor Randy Stacks, whose three sons have attended CSM. “I always challenge our church to look for ways to connect and serve others. Not only within the walls of our church, but everywhere we go.”
Maryland Sen. Arthur Ellis and his wife Rosalind joined the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) Student Life team to help distribute 725 pounds of food in one day at the sixth Mobile Hawk Feeder event held at the La Plata Campus Nov. 19.
“[This is] A harsh truth but necessary response to action,” the senator later tweeted. “The holiday season is an especially difficult time for many, let alone college students. We appreciate CSM’s efforts to provide this kind of relief.”