Creating Opportunities Through Basic Needs

Creating Opportunities Through Basic Needs

Going beyond simply providing a top-notch education to its students, Minneapolis College is shaping its environment through a more holistic approach, creating opportunities by providing access to basic needs. Attending to mental and physical health, hunger, housing, supplies, COVID and other essential services help ensure students can attain their goals.

Student Health Clinic

Providing access to health care on campus is a point of pride for Minneapolis College. Boynton Health provides quality healthcare services to all enrolled students at the Student Health Clinic. Medical professionals are on site to treat common illnesses and injuries, provide testing (laboratory and x-ray) including COVID testing and vaccinations, routine medical exams, physical therapy, nutrition counseling and chemical health and mental health services including therapy and medication management.  

As Dr. Daniel Silverman, M.D., Ph.D. and his colleagues noted in a 2008 article, science in the past two decades has validated what many educators have always known: “Health creates capacity; students whose health status is positive and flourishing have greater ability and readiness to learn and engage fully in all meaningful educational experiences inside and outside the classroom.”

Providing Meals and Food Essentials on Campus

It’s public knowledge that it’s easier to learn when you’re not hungry. Recognizing many of its students experience financial hardship, Minneapolis College partnered with Second Harvest Heartland to provide ready-to-eat meals and stock a food pantry on campus.

Every Wednesday in T.1200, 300 nutritious meals from Second Harvest’s Minnesota Central Kitchen are available to students, faculty and staff in need. Expert culinary experts transform ingredients into individual and family-style microwavable meals, with special attention placed on serving culturally connected meals made by and for communities of color. At Thanksgiving, 100 holiday meals will be available.

“If it weren’t for the food offered on campus, my family and I would go hungry,” said a Minneapolis College student.

The on campus food pantry stocks an array of culturally appropriate food to ensure students have access to food when they need it. A few of the essentials include rice, beans, noodles and an array of spices. During the growing season, the community garden on campus provides fresh produce.

“In the spring and fall of this year, we received a capacity grant that enabled us to purchase large freezers, gloves, masks, sanitizing products and other essential supplies,” said Becky Nordin, Dean of Students and TRIO Director. “We now offer a wider selection of foods and perishables that never go to waste because we make leftovers available to everyone on campus.”

Housing Resources

Finding affordable housing can be a challenge for many people in our community, including Minneapolis College students. In September, a Housing Fair was hosted on campus to provide resources and information related to low-income housing. To ensure that students have a place to ask questions throughout the year, the Student Support Center hosts an Americorps Housing Navigator to assist students with housing needs.

COVID Response

Ensuring COVID isn’t a significant barrier, Minneapolis College hired a contractor to handle communication with students who have experienced a COVID exposure. “Beyond initial testing and vaccination, we follow-up with students so they understand the current safety standards, notify their instructors, offer health resources and provide next steps to take the mystery out of what to do,” said Nordin. “We can also provide access to an emergency fund for students who have a COVID exposure thanks the Higher Education Relief Fund.”

Campus Drives

Throughout the year, the Student Support Center alongside the Basic Needs Committee reaches out to the community to fill some of the essential needs requested by its students. The school supply drive starts the year in August to ensure students have the learning tools they need to begin the year. As the snow falls, a warm winter weather gear drive moves into full swing collecting new and slightly used hoodies, coats, gloves, hats and scarves. A diaper drive is currently in process preparing for a spring giveaway. In December, Toys for Tots moves on campus to offer a pick-up site to student parents and guardians who apply for the program.

“It’s rewarding to know the services we offer support students in obtaining their degree,” said Nordin. “In my 17 years on campus, I’ve always taken pride in our mission to provide access to the transformative power of education and our vision to provide access to excellence and pathways to opportunity. The Student Support Center is one anchor for student success.”

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