Broward College Gets Almost $400,000 to Help Address Food Security Among its Students With Florida Blue Foundation Grant

The College has also partnered with other organizations to provide food and hygiene products to qualifying students at no cost

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (February 3, 2021) -- Imagine working your way through college, studying for long hours, and at the same time having to worry about your next meal. Food insecurity has been a challenge for college students. Research from Feeding America estimates that 17 million people could become food insecure due to the pandemic, bringing the total number of food-insecure people in the U.S. to more than 54 million.

The situation is reflected in the experience of some students at Broward College. In a spring 2020 climate survey at the institution, 28 percent of students indicated hunger or not having enough food impacted their academic performance. The College has responded with a comprehensive effort that supports students beyond the classroom, including assistance with food and personal items. This initiative recently received a significant boost, thanks to the Florida Blue Foundation. The Florida Blue Foundation has approved a more than $377,000 grant over the next four years to build three food pantries, called Seahawk Marketplace, on each of the College’s main campus. 

The grant will be distributed over eight payments, with the first on January 15, 2021, and the final payment on August 30, 2024. The Seahawk Marketplace will offer food and hygiene products to students at no cost. The first Seahawk Marketplace will open on the A. Hugh Adams Central Campus (Davie) in the fall of 2021, followed by North Campus (Cypress Creek), then the Judson A. Samuels South Campus (Miramar) in the following years. Seahawk Marketplace will boost the College's current weekly drive-through food distribution, which began in September 2020.

Broward College will also implement a new software service, called Single Stop, to complement its food insecurity measures. The software offers a one-stop-shop for students to apply for and connect to resources that will support their educational goals. Through Single Stop, students can apply for any benefit they may qualify for at one of the College's campuses without being referred to an external agency for assistance. Currently, students in need only receive assistance with referrals.

“With the help of the Florida Blue Foundation grant, we have the opportunity to really build a comprehensive and meaningful initiative to combat food insecurity among our students,” said Esmerelda Sweeney, associate vice president, Student Success at Broward College. “In addition to Florida Blue, we are so thankful for the many other community partnerships we have that have contributed to truly transforming our student’s lives.” 

The Seahawk Marketplace will offer students an immediate solution to address hunger. Besides the long-term solutions provided by Single Stop, nutritional courses will also be offered to ensure students have the knowledge to make budget-friendly, healthy choices.

The work being done with Seahawk Marketplace, the weekly food distribution drive-through, and other food security initiatives at the College are possible thanks to many partnerships. The following community partnerships contribute to supporting Broward College students and their families:

 

LifeNet4Families

  • Since September 2020, LifeNet4Families provides an average of 240 bags of food weekly to be distributed to students in the drive-through food donations
  • About 3,330 bags of food successfully distributed
    • The drive-through donations alternate Broward College campuses and times each week to reach as many students as possible
  • LifeNet4Families will continue to provide bags of food on the campuses that do not have an established Seahawk Marketplace

Holy Cross Hospital

  • Awarded the College a $10,000 grant in December 2020 for Broward College to provide fresh, nutrient-rich fruit and vegetables to students on the same days as the drive-through food donations

Lyft

  • One of the challenges of the drive-through food donations is that many students who need assistance do not have cars
  • Starting this Spring, Lyft is offering free rides (valued up to $40) to Broward College students whose destination starts or ends on a Broward College campus
  • This partnership will allow students to travel to campus for food donations, laptop pick-ups, and much more

Feeding South Florida

  • In partnership with Broward College and the Florida Blue Foundation, Feeding South Florida will help the Seahawk Marketplaces abide by the highest standards and ensure they are run as effectively as possible
  • Feeding South Florida is committed to providing nutritious and culturally appropriate food to increase food access and encourage healthy eating on campus

Nourishing Lives

  • Provides and delivers food bags (Pack-a-Sack) to the Broward UP ™ Social Support and Service Commission team for community outreach to assist with food insecurity
  • The goal is to support the health and well-being of communities so they can benefit from increased educational access and attainment and further support Broward County’s Unlimited Potential

Fitlife Foods

  • Specializes in healthy prepared meals and wellness coaching
  • Hosts education events teaching students about wellness, healthy eating, and preparations of meals
  • Donates overstock meals when available

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ABOUT BROWARD COLLEGE:

Serving more than 63,000 students annually, Broward College provides residents with certificate programs, two-year university-transfer degrees, two-year career degrees and baccalaureate degrees in selected programs. The mission of the college is to provide high-quality educational programs and services that are affordable and accessible to a diverse community of learners. For more information, visit www.broward.edu

Community Partnership Local Residents COVID-19 Support