STLCC-Meramec Circle of Concern teams up to help students in need
By: Cassie Kibens
Deborah Caby, student, co-president of TRIO and VP of membership for Phi Theta Kappa, received approval for STLCC-Meramec’s first on-campus food pantry, Brown Bag Cafe, on Friday. The administration approved the proposal and now Caby is searching for an appropriate space for the Cafe through a meeting with campus life. The purpose of Brown Bag Café is to assist students who can not afford a daily lunch.
“[Brown Bag Cafe is] a project that allows a student to get a daily lunch, in a brown bag, a self contained meal that they can microwave or something, and then refer them to services, through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families office.” Caby said.
Brown Bag Cafe is a collaborative effort Caby said. TRIO, TANF, Service Learning, Campus Life, The Student Government Council and Phi Theta Kappa are all involved. When Caby learned that staff were feeding people from their desks and out of their offices she decided the Brown Bag Cafe was something that had to happen, and soon.
“How can we retain our students at this school, or at any school, if they’re going to school hungry?” Caby said. “It’s about retention, giving people the nutrients they need to learn.”
Caby hopes to open Brown Bag Cafe in April. Her goal is to have it running by April 1st.
“The Brown Bag Cafe is a temporary fix but it’ll refer people to the permanent services that they need to take care of their needs while they’re in school.” Caby said.
Debbie Corson, part of Service Learning kicked off the first food drive of the calendar year March 4th with a food drive held in the cafeteria. There were food barrels to decorate, a barrel toss game in which winners received a prize and brown bags with the list of appropriate items to bring in to benefit the drive. Members of Phi Theta Kappa and Service Learning were present.
“I think there’s a lot of need in our community and giving service while you’re learning can make a difference and the impact of that learning,” Corson said.
“I was eager to start working and helping out and being part of a community,” Taylor Jones, Phi Theta Kappa member, said.
As a member of Phi Theta Kappa and volunteering with Brown Bag Cafe Jones said it is “a great way to put both together; work and school.”
The food drive will go until the end of March. Items collected will benefit Circle of Concern and Brown Bag Cafe. This school year about 5,000 items have been collected.