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Rio Salado Feeding Children Everywhere Hunger Relief Program Gets Innovation Award

Rio Salado Chef serving a dish, Struggling with Hunger we can Help poster. Full Cart Poster: Struggling with Hunger?  We Can Help You Now. Feeding Children Everywhere CEO, Rick Whitted

Rio Salado College Feeding Children Everywhere Hunger Relief Program Gets Innovation Award

To help students struggling with food insecurity, Rio Salado College joined forces with Feeding Children Everywhere (FCE) to launch an online hunger relief program, which was recognized by the League for Innovation in the Community College as Maricopa Community Colleges’ 2019-20 Innovation of the Year award-winner. 

Rio Salado, which serves online students across the United States, began partnering with FCE in 2018 on a pilot voucher program to serve students experiencing economic hardships and food insecurity, wherever they may be. 

To address a growing need for support, Rio Salado launched an expanded version of the program in August of 2019 and has since delivered more than 16,000 servings of food to students across the country. 

“We are dedicated to student equity and access, which is why supporting our students, especially during vulnerable times, is a top priority for us,” said Rio Salado Interim President Kate Smith. “You cannot learn if you are hungry. Nutrition is a fundamental necessity to learning and why we have stepped up our efforts to end hunger among our students. Feeding Children Everywhere helped us to streamline our efforts and address needs across the country.”

“We launched an awareness campaign last summer to advise students of this program and we continue to promote this service through direct student emails, social media, blogs, message boards and our website, which has a dedicated page about this service,” said Rio Salado Vice President of Student Affairs Greg Pereira. “Our faculty and counselors have played a critical role in the success of this program. Counselors do a needs analysis with each student, disperse vouchers and follow up with them to check on their progress."

The Rio Salado Sustainable Food and Café at Rio teams joined in the effort by sharing recipes using ingredients from FEC with instructional videos.

The results speak for themselves. Nearly 70 percent of Rio Salado students who received emergency food assistance have remained enrolled and successfully completed their intended program of study.

Through FCE’s Virtual Food Bank Program, Full Cart, packages of food are delivered directly to the homes of students in need. The program is part of an ongoing initiative at FCE to improve access to healthy food and nutritional education resources. 

“Rio Salado has brought to life that food insecurity is a real topic at our colleges around the country,” said Feeding Children Everywhere CEO Rick Whitted. “They continue to test the innovation of Full Cart to fight food insecurity in different environments. Now we’re bringing that fight to college campuses.”

According to a 2019 Association of American Colleges & Universities survey, more than 60-percent of college students in the U.S. had experienced food insecurity within 30 days of completing the survey and housing insecurity within the past year. 

If you are a Rio Salado student struggling with food insecurity, please contact our counselors for immediate assistance with emergency relief services by calling (480) 517-8785 or visit this counseling web page.

Established more than 35 years ago, the League’s Innovation of the Year Awards recognize faculty, staff and administrators at member colleges who have created and implemented innovative programs, practices, partnerships, policies and activities that improve the institution’s ability to serve students and the community.

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