By: Joel Vazquez, Writer / Follow South Jersey Higher Education Intern
DEPTFORD TOWNSHIP, N.J. — Roadrunner’s Refuel is a free and confidential food pantry on campus with one goal: no student goes to class hungry. It’s been sponsored by the RCSJ Chapter of the American Association for Women in Community Colleges. Kristen Wilson, student empowerment administrator, has been in charge of Roadrunner’s Refuel since 2017.
“It is our duty as higher education professionals to provide our students as much assistance as we can so they can be successful in and out of the classroom,” Wilson said of the program.
The pantry provides “grab and go” meals to students running on empty stomachs. All students who are currently enrolled at RCSJ can utilize Roadrunner’s Refuel. All they have to do is contact Kristen Wilson via email at email@example.com to sign up for the program.
“It is during registration that we talk with students to see if they have other needs so that we can provide referrals and other campus and community resources,” Wilson said.
Pantry usage has dropped because classes are being taught remotely. But the organization continues to promote the pantry and other resources in the community that students can use during these difficult times.
“We know that the need has not gone away,” Wilson said.
In 2019, The Hope Center of College, Community, and Justice performed a survey on 17 New Jersey community colleges, including RCSJ. The survey found that 38% of respondents said they were worried about running out of food before they had money to buy more. The survey also revealed that students with food insecurity reported grades below a C more often.
“Many of these students were receiving free or reduced lunch in high school, only to come to college where a similar program doesn’t exist,” said Wilson.
The pantry shelves are stocked by private donations. The items in highest demand are individual packs of tuna, crackers, and “heat and eat” meals, like ravioli or macaroni and cheese. The only food products they do not accept are perishable foods, canned vegetables, and loaves of bread.
“Hunger should never be a reason that a student can’t thrive,” Wilson said.
For more information or to donate, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.