Seminole State College is preparing to open a food pantry for students this fall. The College is currently gathering non-perishable food items and monetary donations to ensure its inventory will meet student needs.

In order to sustain the availability of food for students, SSC has partnered with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. According to the Regional Food Bank, Oklahoma is the sixth hungriest state in the United States.

Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Bill Knowles said the College wants to alleviate a common challenge and stressor for students.

“Students may have to choose between buying their textbooks and paying their tuition bill, or buying food for themselves or their families. Some students choose to drop or withdraw from their classes due to the inability to buy food,” Dr. Knowles said.

In the five-county area SSC primarily serves, food insecurity rates range from 14 to 19 percent. On a national level, 44 percent of students have skipped or cut the size of their meals, and 20 percent of students did not eat for a whole day due to a lack of funds for food.

SSC has launched a payroll deduction program, so its employees may donate from their earnings directly to the food bank’s efforts. Dr. Knowles said that if just 50 of the College’s employees donate $5 per month, the food pantry will be able to provide 1,000 meals to students monthly.

Community members are also welcome to help support this initiative with food or monetary donations. Most needed food items include anything high in protein, such as canned chicken, tuna or beef stew, chili, nuts and peanut butter. Other needs include canned fruit and vegetables, granola bars, cereal, pasta/rice and sauce, juice boxes and self-stable milk products. All items must be nonperishable.

If you are interested in giving to the SSC food pantry, you may contact Dr. Knowles at b.knowles@sscok.edu or 405-382-9272.