A straight-A student missed a week of classes at Montgomery College because her family would not be able to afford both food and the feminine hygiene products she needed to go out in public. Unfortunately, students all over the United States face such choices. When Kim McGettigan heard the story, she realized more work needed to be done at the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus. McGettigan’s official position is administrative manager at the Office of the Vice President and Provost, but, in reality, her service extends to every person she meets.
- Takoma Park/Silver Spring: Commons (CM 110) and Pavilion 4’s Institute for Race, Justice, and Civic Engagement (second floor). Hours are available on the website. For more information, contact Kim McGettigan or Vincent Intondi.
- Rockville: Macklin Tower (MT 212) from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Germantown: High Tech (hallway near HT 300) from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. For more information about the Rockville and Germantown food pantries, contact Sara Ducey or Genevieve Carminati.
Mobile markets (2018-2019)
- Takoma Park/Silver Spring: 5, Oct. 3 and 31, Nov. 28, Feb. 6, March 6, April 3, and May 1. Outside ST between NP (ST atrium/inclement weather) from 2 to 4 p.m.
- Rockville: S 19, Oct. 17, Nov. 14, Dec. 12, Feb. 20, March 27, April 17, and May 15. Outside of North Garage from 10 a.m. to noon.
- Germantown: 12, Oct. 10, Nov. 7, Dec. 5, Feb. 13, March 20, April 10 and May 8. Outside SA (HT 2nd floor/inclement weather) from 10 a.m. to noon.
To address food insecurity, Montgomery College has developed several initiatives. Each campus has food pantries available to students. McGettigan oversees the two pantries at the TP/SS Campus and says the initiative started as a process many years ago, with faculty and staff members providing food resources for students in a less defined way, with drawers full of crackers and peanut butter, or by buying them a meal at the cafeteria. Free personal hygiene products are also available at both food pantries and in all the major buildings of the campus.
“You cannot learn and study if you’re hungry so it’s really a student success and an academic initiative, as much as it is a social and safety net initiative,” McGettigan said. “Students learn better if they’re not starving.”
The Wisconsin HOPE Lab estimated through national surveys that between 42 and 56 percent of community college students were food insecure. The study defines food insecurity as the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or the ability to acquire such foods in a socially acceptable manner.
Last year, the Student Health and Wellness Center launched another initiative aimed at addressing food insecurity: the mobile markets. In partnership with the Capital Area Food Bank, the College offers free fresh produce and other foods at each campus once a month. The food bank has about 80 mobile markets through the DMV area, but Montgomery College is the only institution of higher education that they collaborate with.
“They do an assessment called a hunger heat map to see where the disparities lie throughout the DMV area and how they can use the programs they have established to meet the needs of that area. Recently, certain pockets of Montgomery County had come up in their hunger heat map,” said Dr. Benita Rashaw, student affairs initiative program manager at MC who runs the mobile markets alongside Carmen Poston Travis, student affairs operations director.
Since last fall, they have distributed food to an estimated 3,500 people, 65 percent of which have been students. The markets are open not only to students but also to faculty, staff, and the community at large. The process is simple: people come, grab a bag, and take what they need.
During the first week of class, the center served packaged food in grab-and-go bags to 500 students. Poston Travis said the items were so popular that their next initiative is to have pop-up hot lunches. “The goal is to help students be functional when they attend their classes.”