Dallas College announced the food pantries located on each of its seven campuses will officially reopen July 12.
The pantries, which debuted in 2019, closed 14 months ago as COVID-19 gripped North Texas. It meant a new hardship for students who needed help securing a basic need -- food.
"What we had found through all the statistics was that our students were hungry. And of course, you know, if you're hungry, if you're focused on your next meal, how can you focus on studying? And how can you be successful? So, we wanted to open food pantries on each of the campuses to remove that barrier from our students so they could come in once a week and get their grocery shopping done." said Cathy Edwards, Associate Dean of Basic Needs & Care at Dallas College.
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When the pantries closed, it opened the door to something new. Dallas College and its longtime partner North Texas Food Bank set up mobile pantries on all seven campuses to feed students and families in the community. There were many days when the line stretched miles.
"We've given out since March 2020, over three million pounds of food. So there was such a need," Edwards said.
And feeding that need in the community will continue as Dallas College also brings back the on-campus pantries.
"The mobile food pantries and distributions we have are intentional for our community members as they try to transition back to getting jobs or finding their next meal. So that will continue as part of the service we provide at Dallas College," said Carlos Cruz, dean of the Student Care Network at Dallas College.
As students return to campuses, they'll find pantries just for them reopened, restocked - and ready to help as they get back on their feet.
"And all our students are trying to better themselves, they're trying to make a new life for themselves, for their families, for their kids. So it is absolutely crucial we have these basic needs available for our students to remove those barriers and create success," Edwards said.
Edwards invites those who come for food to stay a while.
"Not just coming to get the food right? but come through the doors. Come get an education. Come see what we have," she said. "Now is the time for a rebuild. We really need to focus on rebuilding lives, getting those skills, finding better jobs, being able to sustain themselves."