WORCESTER — Gathered for a legislative breakfast and ribbon-cutting ceremony last Friday, local legislators, community organizations and donors listened as Quinsigamond Community College students shared stories of how the HomePlate Food Pantry and Resource Center has impacted their lives.
First opened in 2018, the ribbon-cutting event was held to acknowledge the donors who have continued to help the food pantry grow since it expanded in 2021, as well as show off the two new donor walls, which feature the corporate donors on one side and private donors on the other.
“The food pantry is used by many types of people who just want to better their lives. Now they don’t have to choose between school and work,” said QCC Student Resource Manager Bonnie Coleman at the event.
Donors who contributed between $250 to $299 have their name printed on a plaque shaped like a baseball and placed on a blue wall titled "QCC HomePlate All-Stars."
A green, diamond-shaped plaque contains the names of corporate donors and the donation amounts they contributed to the pantry.
In a press release, the college said that the pantry serves approximately 150 students per week who are able to shop for items such as fresh produce and shelf-stable foods, dairy and personal hygiene products, provided by the Worcester County Food Bank Goya Foods who recently made a large donation.
A student survey conducted by Wisconsin Hope Lab in 2018 found that close to 50% of students at QCC were food insecure and 11% were homeless.
The event was moderated by Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society President Lindsey Colgate, who shared her experiences as a college student at QCC.
“I’m a single mom; I’ve dealt with homelessness. I was even working full-time and just couldn’t get out of that hole,” Colgate said. “Now I’m here and I never thought I’d be running an honor society or speaking at an event like this, but it shows that community college offers so much more than a degree.”
The pantry not only doubled in size in the 2021 expansion, but has also been able to expand the types of services it provides students through donations.
United Way donated a program providing services similar to Instacart to the pantry, allowing students to pick up food each week in a grocery store-type setting.
In the coming weeks, the pantry will receive another donation in the form of a refrigerated truck and food lockers to “increase efficiency,” from the Greater Worcester Community Foundation.
Dean of Student Affairs Dr. Theresa Vecchio said that the college’s Hotel Restaurant Management program is working on creating grab-and-go meals to help supply the food pantry as well.
QCC student Julia Rooney, who studies criminal justice and works at the food pantry, spoke to the crowd about her experiences as an employee.
“I’m thanked by many different people including someone I’m lucky enough to now call a friend,” Rooney said. “She told me that without the food pantry, she and her two-year-old son would still be living in a homeless shelter. I’m happy to tell you that now she has a full-time job and an apartment and is on her way to graduating this spring.”
This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: QCC food pantry, opened in 2018, holds ceremony acknowledging donors