Keystone RV in Pendleton on Friday will deliver more than 1,000 pounds of nonperishable food to Blue Mountain Community College to assist with the opening of The Den, its new food pantry for food insecure students.
“BMCC is so appreciative of the employees at Keystone for their generous donation to our food pantry,” said BMCC Interim President Dr. Connie Green. “It’s so heartwarming to see a partner in our community step up to help our students.”
The donation came about when BMCC Success Coach Joey GrosJacques, a former Keystone employee, heard about the college’s new food pantry and recalled Keystone put on a food drive each year as a competition between their production plants in Pendleton. He contacted Keystone’s Human Resources Manager Courtney Wallis to inquire if the company had already identified a recipient of the food drive and to inform her of BMCC’s new food pantry. While Keystone typically donates its food drive collections to multiple organizations, this year the RV company decided to instead donate everything to BMCC’s food pantry.
“They felt this was an amazing thing the college was doing, and that it could help our students when times are tough,” GrosJacques said.
Last year, BMCC conducted a study to identify the level of food insecurity among its students throughout the district. The study identified that more than 45 percent of responding students cut the size of their meals or skipped meals in the past year because they didn’t have enough money for food, and that this occurred almost every month for nearly 20 percent of them. Forty-three percent said that in the past year, they went hungry because there wasn’t enough money for food.
These results led BMCC to pursue a food pantry for students in Morrow Hall. A $2,000 donation from the BMCC Foundation, $1,000 from Altrusa of Pendleton, $700 from the Vista Program, and $450 from BMCC’s Innovation Fund helped jumpstart the program. In addition to “The Den” in Morrow Hall in Pendleton, there will be smaller food pantry options at BMCC’s locations in Milton-Freewater, Hermiston and Boardman.
Keystone will deliver the pallets of food to BMCC at 10 a.m. Friday. Work study students will assist staff to help move food into The Den food pantry in Morrow Hall.