Pellissippi State shares resources with students during Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week

Forty-one Pellissippi State Community College students receive food every two weeks from the Pellissippi Pantry, a free service that is helping feed not only these students, but 127 family members.

The College is using Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, Nov. 12-18, to make sure all students across Pellissippi State’s five campuses are aware of the resources available to them.

“Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is purposely the week before Thanksgiving so that we can think about the bountiful meal most of us will be enjoying and realize that not everybody has that,” said Drema Bowers, director of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement at Pellissippi State. “Among our goals is to share the definitions of food insecurity and housing insecurity, as we are working hard to address these issues at Pellissippi State.”

The Hope Center for College, Community and Justice’s 2017 #RealCollege survey of basic needs in higher education, released in April 2018, shows 42 percent of respondents at community colleges across the country had faced food insecurity in the past month while 46 percent had faced housing insecurity in the past year.

“My colleague Sandra Davis and I went to #RealCollege, a national conference on food and housing insecurity, in September, and we came back with a greater desire to make sure we are doing all that we can do,” Bowers said. “We’ve got our Pellissippi Pantry and our Hardin Valley Campus Garden, which grows produce for the Pantry, but what else would help our students?”

The Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week events will help Pellissippi State identify how the College could be more proactive in meeting students’ food needs, in particular.

A Student Voice Survey is set for 10:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, on the Strawberry Plains Campus and 10:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, on the Blount County Campus.

“We want to find out if students know about the Pellissippi Pantry, whether they are willing to utilize our services, and why or why not,” Bowers explained. “We also want to ask them what they would like to see in a pantry.”

To help identify the kinds of foods students would eat, Bowers and Davis will ask students to choose between two bags of food. Bowers, who has three children who are young adults, has a theory about why Pellissippi State students at the Strawberry Plains and Blount County campuses do not use the Pellissippi Pantry as often as students at the college’s other three campuses: the students at those two campuses tend to be fresh out of high school.

“Right now we have a lot of food like corn, green beans, peas – things you’d find in your mom’s pantry,” she said. “I think if we provided foods that are easier to fix – microwavable meals, single-serving-sized cereals – that we would have more traditional-age students utilize the Pellissippi Pantry.”

Other Pellissippi State events planned for Hunger and Homelessness Week include:

  • Monday, Nov. 12: “Soup, Salad and Solutions,” a panel discussion featuring Bowers, Andy Buckner of Helen Ross McNabb Center’s runaway and homeless youth programming, Shawn Griffith of the Homeless Youth Council, and Ross Jones of Knoxville Dream Center. The discussion will be held 11:50 a.m.-12:45 p.m. in the Cafeteria Annex on the Hardin Valley Campus and, while this event is free and lunch is provided, those interested should RSVP to service-learning@pstcc.edu by Nov. 8.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 14: #WisdomWednesday, an opportunity to drop by the Division Street Campus 10-11:30 a.m. to learn more about food and housing insecurity among college students and identify ways you can make a positive impact.
  • Friday, Nov. 16: Bowers will speak at the monthly Homeless Youth Council meeting 9-10 a.m. at the L.T. Ross Building, 2247 Western Ave., to share ways Pellissippi State is addressing food and housing insecurity among college students and to give an overview of the #RealCollege conference.
  • Saturday, Nov. 17: Bowers and Davis will create a Pop-Up Pantry at the Magnolia Avenue Campus to introduce Weekend College students to the Pellissippi Pantry and Hardin Valley Campus Garden – and to ask Weekend College students how Pellissippi State could better serve them.

For more information on Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865.694.6400.

To request accommodations for the events on Nov. 12 and 14, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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