The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Roane State Community College have announced the permanent space for a food pantry to serve the Roane State community, based at the school’s Cumberland County campus.
As part of a pilot program – the Tennessee College and University Food Pantry Assistance Program – TDEC seeks to address both food insecurity and food waste at higher education institutions across the state.
According to a study by the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, as many as two thirds of community-college students nationwide are food insecure.
“We greatly appreciate our partnership with TDEC as we work together to address food insecurity for our students,” said Roane State President Dr. Chris Whaley. “The initiative is part of the college’s holistic approach to student success as we work to help our students overcome challenges both inside and outside the classroom.”
Most students at Roane State’s Cumberland County campus are from Cumberland County, with about 10 percent from Fentress County, which is designated as a distressed county. Overall, 64.9 percent of Cumberland County students in pre-K through 12th grade qualify for free lunches. Since many of the higher-income students go to four-year colleges or universities, Roane State experiences a higher percentage of students who previously qualified for free and reduced-price meals. There is no food service on the campus, only vending machines, demonstrating why a food pantry is needed to help students and their dependents experiencing food insecurity.
TDEC plans to expand the pilot program in the coming months. Additional information regarding this expansion will be available later this spring here.