ECC Foundation Launches ‘Food for Falcons’ Pilot Program
College is often a balancing act for students with classes, jobs, and other commitments. Now imagine doing all this on an empty stomach.
Food insecurity is a real issue and one that East Central College is trying to address, said Bridgette Kelch, executive director of the ECC Foundation.
The Foundation office this week launched a four-week trial program, Food for Falcons, to provide one free meal each school day, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., for all students at its Union campus. Students only need to show their ID in the school cafeteria and can choose from a variety of breakfast or lunch options.
“We know some of our students are skipping meals due to limited resources,” said Kelch, who credits ECC President Dr. Jon Bauer with the idea of providing complimentary meals.
Dr. Bauer had learned about a similar program being offered by Ozark Technical Community College which provides a free breakfast for students.
“There is a need, we just don’t know to what extent,” said Kelch. “This pilot program will give us a better idea on the needs and costs.”
Kelch said students will be able to choose breakfast or lunch, whichever fits best with their schedules.
“Our goal is to help students succeed at East Central,” said Dr. Bauer. “Something as simple as a meal is one way we can support our students and empower them to succeed in the classroom.”
The Foundation will fund the four-week trial, which ends April 14, and then a determination will be made on whether to continue it next fall and how to fund it. Also under consideration will be a program to benefit Rolla students.
Kelch said offering food assistance should lead to better and more successful outcomes for students, which benefits the greater community. Hunger can force students to drop out of school to work more, or perform poorly in their classes, she said, all of which inhibits academic success.
ECC also offers a food pantry on campus which students can access at no cost.