Submitted by South Puget Sound Community College

South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) was recently awarded $131,000 by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) to Support Students Experiencing Homelessness and those in need of emergency assistance.

SPSCC is one of four Washington community colleges to receive the SSEH grant. Other recipients include Edmonds Community College, Walla Walla Community College, and Yakima Valley College. The grant will be awarded over two academic years, with $48,000 to be dispersed from Jan. – June 2020 and $83,000 during July 2020 – June 2021. SPSCC will use the funds to support students with housing assistance and food options, and additional resources by providing access to showers, laundry facilities, and storage lockers. Last year, seven in 10 community college students experienced food or housing uncertainty, according to a 2019 national survey by the Hope Center, a nonprofit action research center focused on reducing obstacles to completing college.

“Every day we think about ways that we can help more students stay on track and complete their degree. For many of our students, simply knowing that their basic needs will be met—a roof over their head, a hot meal, and a good night’s sleep—is enough to help them persist through any academic challenges,” said Dr. Timothy Stokes, president of SPSCC. “These grants are an important recognition of the financial strains our students face every day just to get to campus.”

Over the last few years, SPSCC has partnered with community organizations to tackle some of the most pressing student needs. In the fall of 2017, SPSCC implemented a food pantry to help meet students’ needs. The food pantry is a partnership between SPSCC Student Leadership, the SPSCC Foundation, the South Sound Reading Foundation and Thurston County Food Bank.

For the fall 2019 quarter, the food pantry had 525 visits, a 48% increase from the same quarter in 2018 and a 188% increase since opening. Additionally, in the fall 2019 quarter, the food pantry expanded their space to be able to support students with refrigerated and frozen goods including; meat, dairy, milk, eggs and additional produce.

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