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Tue, Oct. 22

Students feeding students in need
Yavapai College student club opens emergency food pantry

A member of Yavapai College’s student-run philanthropy club I Am YC stocks the shelves of Yavapai College’s brand-new emergency food pantry. (J.J. McCormack/Courtesy)

A member of Yavapai College’s student-run philanthropy club I Am YC stocks the shelves of Yavapai College’s brand-new emergency food pantry. (J.J. McCormack/Courtesy)

Yavapai College’s student-run philanthropy club I Am YC officially opened up the community college’s first emergency food pantry on Tuesday, Oct. 10.

The club’s motto is “Investing in Student Success.”

“This goes directly along with that, because when a student is facing food insecurity, they’re like ‘well, where’s my next meal going to be,’ and they can’t focus on the day,” said Sarah Ireland, President of I Am YC.

Food insecurity is when one is faced with unreliable access to affordable or nutritious food for any length of time. It is estimated that 17 percent of the population in Yavapai County faces this issue.

Not only has this been found to affect student performance, but it can also even lead students to reconsider their ability to continue getting a college education.

“So then you have retention issues, and that’s huge,” said Janice Soute, student engagement and activities coordinator at YC and club adviser for I Am YC. “To spend some money and then not be able to complete or finish because you can’t eat or have someplace to sleep.”

The idea to start a food pantry originated from observations made by I Am YC club members after establishing an emergency fund for students in need of fast cash.

“When we first started that about two years ago, the majority of students were asking for gas and food, so we said we could tackle one of these issues with a food pantry,” Ireland said.

To get the pantry off the ground, Ireland and her team of five other club members spoke to the Prescott Community Cupboard.

Much of Prescott Community Cupboard’s distribution practices were subsequently carried over to the club’s effort.

This entails using a food metric sheet that identifies 16 key categories of food. Those who qualify for the program are provided 12 nutritionally-balanced meals for each person in their family using foods from each of these categories. To qualify, students have to be taking at least six credits of coursework. That’s it. They are not asked about their financial situation or whether they are indeed food insecure.

“We don’t get into all that,” Ireland said.

The new YC Prescott campus program is considered a pilot for the college as a whole.

“We’re hoping to expand it to other campuses, so we’re able to reach like the Verde and the Chino and all of the students over there,” Ireland said.

While the club has so far only focused on collecting nonperishable items from YC staff and faculty, anyone within the Yavapai County community is welcome to donate nonperishable goods.

“We plan to get a refrigerator so we can distribute perishable items as well,” Soute said.

For more information or to apply for the program, go to yc.edu/food.

Soute can also be reached to answer questions by calling 928-776-2125 or emailing studentactivities@yc.edu.

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