Bergen Managing Director of Public Relations Larry Hlavenka, who accepted the “Champion of Good Works” award for the institution, and Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey Chair Andrew Silverstein.PARAMUS, N.J. – In a recent survey of 33,000 community college students at 70 institutions, one-third said they regularly battle hunger. The report, conducted by the Wisconsin HOPE Lab and the Association of Community College Trustees, found that more than two-thirds of those surveyed remain food insecure, a characterization of insufficient reliable access to nutritious food.
“Hunger is not an isolated issue affecting a small number of students,” Bergen President B. Kaye Walter, Ph.D., said. “For community college students struggling to make ends meet – despite working multiple jobs and receiving financial aid – food insecurity becomes a part of their life. That’s why in order to help our students remain on a path toward earning a degree, we feel so strongly about trying to remove the stress of where their next meal might come from.”
Among all community college students, issues such as hunger and employment play a role in their ability to remain enrolled – nearly half believe their finances could cause them to leave their institution, according to the Center for Community College Student Engagement.
Bergen has taken steps to combat the issue with its students, partnering with a local nonprofit, the Center for Food Action, to open a pantry at its main campus and signing the “Presidents’ Commitment to Food and Nutrition Security” pledge initiated by Auburn University and “PUSH” (Presidents United to Solve Hunger). President Walter represented the only community college leader to make the commitment.
For its efforts, Bergen received the “Champion of Good Works” award from the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey at the group’s March 15 “Chairman’s Reception” honoring philanthropy in the state. Bergen represented one of only six colleges to earn recognition at the event, which honored companies and organizations from multiple sectors – including financial services, healthcare and manufacturing.
Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (www.bergen.edu<http://www.bergen.edu/>), a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls 15,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.