The Granola Project is a staff-organized project based at Fort Steilacoom which serves to help students who struggle with food insecurities. The funding for this project, Coordinated Care via Food Connections, recently dropped off its support due to unknown circumstances, leaving a shortage of granola bars and other free snack foods at all campuses. For the past month or so, staff members have worked together to round up granola bars for students, which can be found in the tutoring centers at each Pierce College campus.
“College students who go to class hungry may be more concerned with getting something to eat rather than learning and attending class,” says Curt Warmington, an English professor at Fort Steilacoom, acting as an outreach representative of the Granola Project.
Students deal with housing instability, food instability, transportation issues and other unmet needs often in their college years, and this project serves as a way to combat those issues and provide care for students. The idea of the project at Fort Steilacoom is to provide snacks for hungry college students in classes, thereby creating a closer relationship between students and professors as well as a better learning experience. The tutoring center on this campus organizes activities for the unboxing and distribution of granola bars, which are given out to students in need on each campus. Last year, approximately 5,000 granola bars were given out to students facing hunger issues, whereas this year the number grew by 2,000 to 3,000, despite funding losses.
The “Opportunity Rocks” fundraiser is sharing funds of approximately $5000 with the Granola Project program and the Food Pantry in order to continue supporting students. The Granola Project usually spends around $2,000 to $3,000 a year on purchasing the foods, according to Warmington. During the shortage, faculty worked together to bring in 1,000 granola bars for the campuses, understanding that the program had only $500 left of the grant given to them by Coordinated Care.
With poverty numbers rising due to living expenses in areas like Puyallup and Fort Steilacoom, the need to fight hunger also rises. Students and staff alike can still donate boxes of granola bars and non-perishable foods in the tutoring center or at the Student Activities Office, along with the Food Pantry. The food bank trucks on campus, the Emergency Food Network and Nourish Food Banks all support food insecurity issues for Pierce College students.
While Fort Steilacoom’s campus may have the greatest need for helping with poverty issues, that doesn’t mean that Puyallup and other growing areas aren’t in need of assistance. With Washington State’s growing focus on poverty, the efforts to fight hunger in schools and college campuses are seemingly amplified.
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