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Amanda Harvey, BSN, RN, knows what it’s like to worry about lacking food and how she’ll feed
her child. As a graduate of Nebraska Methodist College (NMC), she understands the difficult
choices some students face.
“It is a struggle,” she said. “You need to maintain good grades to keep your scholarship. With the time spent on classes and studying, it’s difficult to make extra money.”
Harvey felt fortunate she could turn to the NMC food pantry when her finances were tight. It helped ensure that her son had enough to eat.
“Knowing he was going to be OK was a huge relief,” she said. “It allowed me to focus on getting good grades.”
Harvey was 29 when she started at NMC. The college attracts many nontraditional students who tend to be older and have families.
“Almost half of students in college are in need of food assistance at some point,” said Lisa Johnson, PhD, director of student services at NMC. “It can be very humbling to ask for help, but they are so grateful.”
The NMC food pantry started with just a couple of snack drawers, but with help from donors, it’s continued to grow over the last four years. There’s now an entire room filled with shelves of necessities, and it’s located next to the classrooms.
“We want students to see it as they pass by in the hallway. It normalizes the idea of food insecurity in college,” Johnson said. “And it’s important to have it on site so that we can accommodate school schedules and clinical obligations.”
Partnerships with Rotella’s Italian Bakery and Hy-Vee ensure that the pantry is able to offer fresh food. “The goal is to provide students with what they need to stay in school and be successful,” Johnson said. “Once they graduate, they can hopefully move past needing this assistance.”
Harvey is now a registered nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at Methodist Hospital. She continues to help with the food pantry at NMC and even collects donations.
“I know what a difference it makes, and I want to help these future health care workers,” she said. “We need them!”