Parker Grant (left) and Joe Jahn (right) take away bins of food for Longfellow Elementary School as part of the Food4Thought program.

Three groups help fulfill students’ needs

Hastings College can be expensive for students, which is why when some pay their tuition, they have difficulty purchasing food and other necessities. A new HC organization tentatively named “Re-Store” is hoping to help meet those needs. Its arrival coincides with the relocation of Crimson Cupboard and Food4Thought, two groups helping feed students on-campus and in elementary schools respectively. The program is currently in development but will be in the basement of Hurley-McDonald Hall.

Re-Store is currently under development logistically. Valerie Bren, coordinator of career services, is working with the Re-Store team to make the service available. She has met with the Habitat of Humanity in Grand Island and Central Closet at Central Community College — Hastings.

Further plans include obtaining shelving and laying out the facility.

Re-Store will serve as a location for students to obtain various supplies and necessity. While the specifics of what will be available are still in the works, items may include toiletries, winter clothes and kitchen utensils.

Crimson Cupboard, founded in 2017, already provides food vouchers for students to purchase food. The new room will enable them to hold and store more food on location.

“If you don’t have your basic needs met, you can’t focus on anything else … When you have those needs at the forefront, it kind of hinders you from allowing yourself to actually start thinking beyond that” Bren said. “So how can you think about other critical thinking or thinking about what do I do in life … when you’re constantly thinking, ‘I have this insecurity and I can’t get past it’?”

Part of the challenge in addressing food insecurity is a sensitive nature. According to Bren, students often do not want to seek assistance because of the associated perceptions on food insecurity.

“Another thing I want to tackle as well is that stigma. So I think a lot of people think because we have food insecurities and maybe some students will feel like ‘I don’t want to go down there because I don’t want to be known as that person.’ And so … just having a good environment, a welcoming environment,” Bren said. “Like, anybody can come down here and grab whatever they need and no judgment because this is for you.”

Re-Store would also have a positive environmental impact.

“It’s meeting the needs of students that need items, but then also maybe having a green effect,” Bren said. “So if students have, like at the end of the school year, they have like a lot of just stuff that they don’t want to take back home, instead of throwing it into the garbage and landfill, it can come back into the store where we can repurpose it and recycle it to someone else.”

No date is set for Re-Store’s opening, but Crimson Cupboard is available to students. Students can contact the following individuals for assistance:

  • Dr. Maggie Callahan
  • Dr. Lisa Smith
  • Chaplain Damen Heitman
  • Dr. Stephanie Furrer
  • Dr. Jean Heriot
  • Dr. Bob Kettlitz
  • Dr. Laura Logan
  • Coach Tony Harper
  • Eddie Keen, graduate student
  • Assitant Coach Daniel Jelley

Food4Thought provides meals to children in elementary school with food insecurity.