A College Goes Virtual • Food Pantry in a Pandemic
“The month of March has been a whirlwind and the last two weeks have been quite intense for everyone!” Dean of Students Anna Berry opened her email to the student body, sympathizing with all they were going through in the pandemic. Thanks to the work of teams across the college, in less than two weeks, GCC students can now access remotely all the support services they used to receive on campus. Peer Tutoring, Library services, Academic Advising, IT help, and Counseling and Disability Services, just to name a few. Peer tutors help with classwork using the online video platform Google Meet, email, or phone. Even Student Activities are continuing programming virtually. Knowing help is available promotes optimism during tough times. Berry reflects, “The resiliency that our institution – both employees and students – will develop as a result of this can’t be understated. This has forced all of us to think in different ways. Things that we couldn’t imagine before, we’re having to make work and we’re seeing good things come out of it.”
Food Pantry in a Pandemic
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, more than one-third of GCC students identified as food insecure. Thanks to generous community support and dedicated college employees, the GCC Food Pantry was efficiently stocked with a wide variety of perishable items such as bread, milk, cheese, meat as well non-perishables. Now that many students have lost jobs as workplaces reduce staff, food insecurity has increased while the pantry has had to eliminate in person services.
Fortunately, GCC staff prepared for this scenario in early March. Jan Ross, Assistant to the Dean of Humanities and Food Pantry volunteer reports, “Natalie Feliciano, (GCC’s Laboratory Science Office who volunteers as Food Pantry manager) immediately put together “Grab & Go bags.” Judy Raper, Associate Dean for Community Engagement, sent out an email to all students connecting them with local food security resources and inviting them to email if they still had need. The team partnered with Director of Public Safety Alex Wiltz to develop a curbside pickup system, eliminating the need for person-to-person contact. Jan says, “We really believe in our students and we want to do whatever we can for them.”
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