Columbia Basin College in Pasco is among four community colleges in the state selected to participate in a new free and reduced price meal pilot program aimed at helping students stay in college and graduate.
The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges selected CBC, along with Walla Walla Community College, Everett Community College and Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen, to receive up to $240,000 per year for three years to provide free and low-cost meal plans or food vouchers to eligible low-income students.
The state Legislature established the pilot program under House Bill 1559 and tasked the State Board with choosing four colleges for funding.
Twenty-five of Washington’s 34 community and technical colleges applied for the grants in a competitive process, underscoring the need to address hunger on college campuses.
According to a 2023 report by the Washington Student Achievement Council, nearly two out of every five, or 39%, of community or technical college students who responded to a survey had experienced food insecurity in the prior month.
To measure food insecurity, students were asked whether they ran out of food, lacked balanced meals, cut meal sizes or skipped meals, or went hungry due to costs.
Jennifer Dellinger, student services policy associate with the State Board, said food insecurity is a college-completion issue.
“It’s almost impossible to concentrate on studies when you’re worried about whether you’ll be able to eat that day,” she said. “This pilot project will help students stay focused and graduate. We are grateful to the Legislature for recognizing that food and other living expenses are also educational expenses.”
In past years, the state Legislature has provided grant funding to help college students experiencing financial emergencies and homelessness.
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