Last updated: February 16. 2013 8:54PM - 673 Views

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NANTICOKE ?? Luzerne County Community College President Tom Leary refers to his campus as a small community. And like all communities, there are issues to deal with ?? like hunger.

To assist some of LCCC??s 7,000 students, a food bank has been established to offer non-perishables to those in need. And to receive food from the bank, all a student has to do is ask.

??We respect their dignity,? Leary said of the program. ??Sometimes it??s very difficult for someone to ask for help. We don??t require paperwork. We feel if a student has the courage to tell us he/she is hungry and doesn??t have any money to buy food, we offer what we can.?

The food bank was established nearly three years ago when a faculty member informed Leary about a student who had no money to buy food. Leary and the administrative staff decided to establish the food bank.

It??s run entirely by volunteers ?? faculty, employees, administrators and students take turns manning the food bank. It??s open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily, but a student can go to the administrative offices anytime and someone will see they get what they need.

Leary said that LCCC has about 7,000 students ?? all of them commute to school. He said by the time they pay for tuition, books and gas, little, if anything, is left.

??Some of our students are here from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.,? Leary said. ??The program has grown over the three years. It seems when gas prices go up, more students need to use the food bank.?

Donation driven

The program thrives on donations. LCCC employees and students donate food to the bank, and cash donations are also accepted.

Leary said the first year of the program, Brian Overman presented a $1,000 check on behalf of the faculty to the food bank.

??I can say that all groups at the college donate to and/or volunteer in the program,? Leary said. ??This program is reflective of people at their best; people who recognize the need and help address it.?

Leary said the average age of an LCCC student is 28. Many of them are adults living on their own or they are married with families.

Teddi Janosov, secretary in student activities, and Donna Dennis, secretary in the counseling department, serve as coordinators. They said about 200 students per semester utilize the food bank ?? many of them repeat customers.

??This isn??t a complicated program,? Janosov said. ??We??re just trying to meet the needs of some of our students. If someone comes in and says, ??No applesauce today,?? we??ll get it.?

Students can pick from several non-perishable items, including baby food, and disposable diapers for their children are available.

Supplies low now

Leary said the food bank stock is low right now because school just resumed Monday. He said donations are coming in, but the college will send out a broadcast e-mail alerting employees and students that donations are needed.

Sandy Nicholas, director of development at LCCC, said ??families? attend the college.

??Our students are not all 18- or 19-year-old kids,? she said.

David Fox, 33 of Drums, is president of the LCCC Student Government, and he donates to the food bank. He said the Student Government encourages students who can afford to donate food or cash to give. ??That??s the beauty of the community college,? Fox said. ??We have abroad spectrum of students here. Not everybody needs to use the food bank, but for those that do need it, it??s there to help them get through school.?

Janosov and Dennis said students who get hungry while at school and who have no money to buy lunch can go to the food bank and get a meal, put it in the microwave oven nearby and eat in the lunch room.

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