Archers’ Market Will Expand Services with New Grant
Wednesday, November 17, 2021
According to numerous surveys conducted by the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice at Temple University, as many as 45 percent of college students deal with food insecurity. Further studies show that those who struggle to find food to put on their plates are more likely to struggle in classes or drop out of school.
However, thanks to a Missouri Department of Agriculture grant, STLCC hopes to improve food security among its students in a variety of ways.
In 2013, student survey at STLCC revealed many students dealt with food insecurity.
The staggering numbers motivated several campus programs and departments to band together
to develop the Brown Bag Café program later that year at the Meramec campus. Shortly
thereafter, it expanded to the Florissant Valley and Forest Park campuses. Last year,
all three campuses transitioned their program name to Archers’ Market.
“The name changed in 2020 because we do more than just food,” said Shannon Nicholson, student assistance program coordinator at Meramec. “It was a little too narrow for all the things we provide.”
Nicholson said many students who initially go into the Archers’ Market are there to get food. But once they are there, the staff can help them with securing other resources, such as mental and physical health needs or housing assistance options.
Thanks to the new grant, the College will be able to expand services by providing workshops to increase knowledge on urban gardening, as well as a feasibility study to address the prevention of food waste. That, plus replacing a broken refrigerator at the Meramec campus market, should help move the Archers’ Market in the right direction to impact more students in a positive way.
“With the urban gardening component, we’ll have workshops at the three campuses that
have Archers’ Markets,” said Keith Robinder, Ph.D., vice president for student support.
“Students will be able to learn how to have an urban garden even if they just have
a small apartment where they just do window or patio gardening.”
Robinder added that if students attend the workshops and start their own urban garden, along with being taught the know-how, the grant will pay for the other materials and supplies. Each campus also will have sample gardens to serve as a template. And the produce that is grown will be able to go straight to the Archers’ Market to provide fresh, healthy food for students.
The grant also will fund a feasibility study to identify how to best track inventory.
“Especially if we’re having items with more limited shelf life,” Robinder said. “Since
we are receiving donations, we don’t want them go to waste.”
He added that the study primarily is about knowing what inventory moves through the markets and how to track the data in a way that’s sustainable.
“How can we track what we need to while also recognizing that asking people to sign in at a food pantry and give details can be counter-productive to empowering people with the need to be self-sufficient?” he asked. “Archers’ Market is not our primary mission—student success is. And if they’re hungry, we feed them. It’s about meeting their immediate need as well as being self-sufficient.”
As time passes and needs change, the Archers’ Market continues to adapt to those needs.
“We now have a benefit and program specialist one day a week at three of the campuses (Florissant Valley, Forest Park and Meramec) to help students apply for SNAP or other resources with the state,” Nicholson said. “We’re expanding the availability of resources both on and off campus.”
Robinder noted that there is emerging research around community colleges and students which suggests that there are people attending who have significant needs.
“When we attend to those needs, they’re more likely to be successful and graduate,” Robinder said, emphasizing the importance of a holistic approach. “All aspects need to be focused on student success and retention, and this is one more area.”