Lower Manhattan College Awarded Grant to Help Hungry Students
The Borough Manhattan Community College (BMCC), headquartered in Tribeca, has received a $100,000 grant from the online retailer Amazon to help address food insecurity among its students. In addition to the cash donation, Amazon also contributed an industrial refrigerator, to enable BMCC to offer cold products, prepared sandwiches and salads.
The food is provided free of charge to students through BMCC’s Panther Pantry, named for the school’s mascot. The facility also gives students free vouchers, redeemable at the BMCC cafeteria or local groceries.
“A high priority at BMCC is to let students know that if they are hungry, they are not alone,” said Marva Craig, the school’s vice president for student affairs. “We are addressing food insecurity on campus, and creating an environment in which our students can succeed.”
“Food insecurity is real. I see it every day on campus,” added Deborah Harte, who oversees the Panther Pantry. “BMCC students are sometimes uncomfortable asking for help when they come to us, but we make sure they know we are on their side. The struggle to balance grocery, transportation and housing expenses in New York City can be tough, even for students who work, and no student should have to choose between paying for groceries and rent. When a family is living check to check, it doesn’t take a lot to tip the balance and force them into very difficult decisions, like whether to go hungry or keep a roof over their heads.”
The urgency of these services is underlined by the fact that 71 percent of BMCC students come from families earning less than $30,000 a year. Ms. Harte adds that food insecurity is often linked to barriers such as housing and immigration status.
The Amazon donation comes on the heels of a $30-million contribution to BMCC, made by philanthropist MacKenzie Scott (the former wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos) in 2020. That has been used to establish the BMCC President’s Fund for Excellence and Innovation, which is being allocated to address food and housing insecurity, improve student learning and engagement, expand career development opportunities, and reduce social and economic equity gaps for students.