Students, staff at Waukesha County Technical College participate in Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week events throughout November
PEWAUKEE, Wis. (Monday, Nov. 11, 2019) – Nationally, Nov. 16-24, 2019 is recognized as Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, but the students and staff at Waukesha County Technical College have dedicated the entire month of November to bring attention to these issues, which also impact students and families in southeastern Wisconsin.
WCTC has been holding a variety of educational, advocacy and informational events -- spearheaded by the Student Development team -- and is focused on being a part of the solution for those who are affected, including some WCTC students.
In 2012, the College opened an on-campus food pantry, the Campus Cupboard, available to students who may be experiencing food insecurity and are need of nutritional assistance. Over the last six years, more than 5,700, bags of groceries have been given to students; in the 2019 fall semester alone, 462 bags have been given to 130 students. The average number of bags given out each week is 35. (Updated, Nov. 27, 2019)
“The demand is high, and the increase over the years has been significant,” said Stephanie McWilliams, WCTC’s New Student Experience and Retention coordinator, who oversees the Campus Cupboard. “Our students are diverse when it comes to income levels, and they may be struggling to pay for food and basic needs.”
The pantry is available to any student. “The Campus Cupboard does not require an intake form, however, all WCTC students must present their Student ID to obtain a grocery bag," McWilliams said. Students may receive one bag per week of pre-packed groceries, which contains breakfast, lunch, dinner and healthy snack items.
- An ongoing food and hygiene items drive will continue through November -- although donations are welcome year-round. (A Strike Out Hunger bowling event on Nov. 3, in partnership with the Waukesha County Technical Educators Association, brought in 312 additional items to the pantry.) Reusable grocery bags were distributed on campus, and for each full bag that is returned to the Campus Cupboard, the Student Government Association is contributing $5 – up to $500. In addition, Early Childhood Education program students also contribute to the pantry by coordinating birthday bags, which includes cake mixes, frosting, candles and related items.
- A special interactive event, the Oxfam Hunger Banquet, is set for Monday, Nov. 18 from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., for students, staff and the public. As part of this simulation, guests randomly choose tickets and are assigned a status of low-, middle- or high-income earner, based on the luck of the draw. Diners receive a corresponding meal reflective of what a person in that respective income level could afford. A discussion and call-to-action will follow at the end of the meal. Registration is required by Nov. 14 -- http://bit.ly/wctchunger.
- Additional activities for Hunger and Homeless Awareness (Month) include:
- Preparation of 20+ turkeys (and side dishes) by Culinary Management students to be donated to students and families in need for the Thanksgiving holiday.
- Displays featuring local facts about hunger and homelessness locally, along with an exhibit by the Hunger Task Force.
- Screenings of “30 Seconds Away: Breaking the Cycle,” a locally produced documentary that shares stories of homeless men in Milwaukee.
“At the end of the day, we need to show kindness and just be aware of the different people we interact with and what they might be going through,” McWilliams said. “Our experience makes us who we are, and we need to be mindful.”
Waukesha County Technical College, the leader in workforce development, prepares learners for success within the region and global economy. The College offers more than 150 areas of study including associate degree, technical diploma, apprenticeship and short-term certificate programs. Customized training for employers is also available. To learn more, visit www.wctc.edu.