Meals IncludED helps tackle food insecurity in the North Country and is the first program of its kind
White Mountains Community College (WMCC), with a campus in Berlin and academic centers in Littleton and North Conway, is tackling food insecurity through a new Meals IncludED program this fall. WMCC is stepping up to the challenge as one of only a small handful of colleges leading the way on new approaches to combat food insecurity, which can be a barrier to academic completion.
“We want to break down barriers for students that can hold them back from attending college or completing academic coursework,” said Dr. Chuck Lloyd, WMCC president. “These obstacles include housing insecurity, food insecurity, lack of transportation and issues finding appropriate childcare. We’re excited to roll out the Meals IncludED initiative this fall for students by paying for their meals as part of enrolling at the college.”
Meals IncludED will provide breakfast and lunch daily along with one dinner per week to all enrolled WMCC students for the fall semester. The food will come from the Bistro, the college’s food service provider, which is run by professional chefs with assistance from culinary students. The program is expected to serve 7,700 free meals per week across WMCC’s three locations with accommodations for the Littleton and North Conway academic centers. Research shows the importance of consuming quality food leads to increased academic focus, persistence and success which aligns with WMCC’s mission.
Meals IncludED is partially funded through a grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s Community Action Crisis Fund.
“We want students to focus on their studies and future plans, not where their next meal will come from,” said Ben Amsden, senior program officer at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. “We’re proud to support the work WMCC is doing to help students stay on track to complete their degree.”
Aside from supporting academic achievement, this program will increase faculty and student engagement while assisting in planning tutoring and other workshops around mealtimes and student activities. Through this program, the free meals will create a community atmosphere by bringing people together and providing a pathway to other types of learning support.
WMCC’s culinary students, who are working towards a certificate or an associate degree, regularly provide food for the Bistro as part of their learning experience and will assist with some food preparation for Meals IncludED. The two-year associate degree programs in culinary and baking and pastry arts provide a wide range of theory and practice. Graduates of the degree program have held positions as chefs, bakers, food production supervisors, food purchasing agents, food service instructors and restaurant owners.
The Gift to the Class of 2021 is another initiative of the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH), including WMCC, that is helping to eliminate the financial barrier of attending community college. This is a gift of education, funded by the Foundation for New Hampshire Community Colleges and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, a free three-credit community college course for all 2021 New Hampshire graduation high school seniors.
Both Meals IncludED and the Gift to the Class of 2021 are just a few initiatives that speak to the heart of CCSNH’s motto – choose community – and are supporting the communities of it’s seven colleges.