Access to a decent education can often come down to more than just grades and tuition—according to a new study, a large percentage of community college students struggle with meeting basic needs like hunger and a place to sleep. A report released Wednesday from a Wisconsin HOPE lab estimates one third of community college students are hungry, and 14 percent are homeless.
Bunker Hill Community College President Pam Eddinger has made it her personal mission to tackle hunger in community college, giving students adequate access to food. "It's about hunger, but it's also about completion—it's about retention and completion," Eddinger told Boston Public Radio in an interview Monday. "I'm not a social service agency—my goal is not to feed everyone. My goal is to feed my students in such a way that they'll stay in school with one solid meal."
Bunker Hill's fund to feed those students is sponsored by donations, which Eddinger says can be the difference between a dropout and a degree. "We have been going out to our donors saying well, for seven dollars a day, you can give one student one solid meal. Sometimes, for the lack of that meal, they will drop out," Eddinger said. "All this poverty stuff is temporary. All I have to do is get them to a degree, or get them to a certificate, and then they can earn better, and we don't have this problem anymore."
Click on the audio player above to listen to the full interview with Pam Eddinger.