NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

NECC fights food insecurity

Multiple initiatives hope to help students

Northern Essex Community College has taken initiatives this spring semester in hopes of reducing “food insecurity” among their students. Along with the “monthly mobile farmers market” which allows students to get free and fresh produce, they also offer  “pop-up” stations throughout campus that will allow students to go and make a sandwich whenever they’d like. According to an email announcement that was sent out on February 5, the stations will be located in most of the academic and advising centers on campus.

The email also specifies that students may request “gluten free bread and nut free spread.” NECC will also be introducing “Smart Meals,” which allows students to receive a “single serving deep frozen meal that students can sign out and microwave.” Students will be able to go to the Welcome Desk in Haverhill’s Student Center or in El Hefni in Lawrence and request a meal. Many students on campus shared their thoughts and opinions about these initiatives on campus and their eating habits throughout the semester.

Susan Elias, 20, Graphic Design major shared that she hasn’t purchased anything from the Lucky’s Cafe on campus but she probably will in the near future. Elias said, “I haven’t gotten around to going because I usually have long breaks in between classes so I tend to go home and eat instead of staying on campus and grabbing something here.”

She also expressed that she very rarely brings snacks or purchases things from the vending machines and “just recently found out that the farmers market is free here at NECC.” Elias was not aware of the new initiatives and says, “I think it’s great that the school is providing these options. There’s probably some people who struggle to find a meal or go a long time without eating due to back to back classes so I think many will appreciate this.”

Samantha Walkowicz, is a 20 year old Psychology major at NECC. She says she’s eaten at the cafe, but doesn’t “eat there often” because she’s usually not on campus for long.  She also has never used the vending machines and doesn’t bring snacks with her. Walkowicz says, “ I did not know about and have never been to the farmers market at NECC,” she said.  Walkowicz was among many students who were unaware about the PB&J pop-ups.

“I was not aware of the initiative for student food insecurity but I think it is great that NECC is providing access to more food on campus,” she said. Soleidi Aragones, 19, is a Criminal Justice Major. She shared that she’s eaten at Lucky’s once and typically buys food at the bookstore. Aragones says she brings snacks to school on a regular basis and uses the vending machines often.

Aragones was also unaware of the free farmers markets and has never attended one. She didn’t know about NECC’s food insecurity initiatives and says, “I think these are great ideas. We as students sometimes don’t even have time to eat, or bring lunch to school, especially if we’re on campus.” Not only will Northern Essex be providing more access to free food, with these station, they continue to provide free food at meetings and events.

On February 13, from 12:30 – 1:30 pm, there will be free pizza at the “Knights, Bites, and Insights” meeting on the second floor at the student center HUB. Northern Essex also emailed an announcement on February 11, that the Lawrence YMCA, is open to free access for Northern Essex students. The YMCA also provides Food Services. According to the email students can stop by the Lawrence Campus Express Desk in El Hefni or the Student Life Office on the Haverhill Campus for a YMCA Voucher. Faculty and staff can obtain a Voucher from Patty Bradford in Human Resources, located on the Haverhill Campus in B-219.