Drive highlights importance of campus food pantry; spotlight on food insecurity challenges faced by Maria College students
ALBANY, NY – Employees from New York State Industries for the Disabled (NYSID) held a food drive to help students at Maria College who are struggling with food insecurity. Staff members from NYSID arrived on campus at Maria College to make the donation on Friday, September 25th.
“We are so grateful for this wonderful donation,” said Victoria Battell, senior vice president and chief mission officer at Maria. “Most of Maria’s students are working adults who are earning a degree that will open up prospects to a living-wage job. Hunger and food insecurity is all too often a reality they are dealing with in their families. It’s very difficult to concentrate on challenging coursework when you’re worried about where the next meal will come from. These food items will go to help our most vulnerable students, and I know from speaking with those who use the food pantry that they are profoundly grateful for this support.”
NYSID has been actively engaged in the food insecurity issue happening in the region due to the pandemic. They have donated and volunteered at Feed Albany and multiple Catholic Charities food drops. NYSID employees have been collecting food for the Maria College Food Pantry, which provides emergency food to students at Maria College who are facing food insecurity. Funding for the operations of the food pantry is provided by the Sisters of Mercy, Northeast Community.
“Nobody should ever go hungry and we at NYSID are particularly sensitive to food insecurity,” NYSID President and CEO Maureen O’Brien said. “The facts are that a person with a disability in New York State is twice as likely to live in poverty, four times as likely to be homeless and on the whole suffer higher food insecurity rates than individuals without. We’re proud of our colleagues who have contributed to this food drive and pleased to support Maria College in its efforts to support students in need.”
“Our whole community is stronger thanks to this support from NYSID and Maureen O’Brien,” said Thomas Gamble, president of Maria College. “Maureen’s commitment to opportunity education, through her board service at Maria and projects like this, has helped our students tremendously.”
Food insecurity has become a more visible issue on college campuses in the past few years. Maria College students are primarily non-traditional students over the age of 25 returning to the classroom, often while caring for family members and holding down full-time jobs.
Many Maria students come from lower income households. 56% of students who completed a FASFA student aid form in 2018-2019 reported household incomes of under $39,999, which is just above 200% of the federal poverty level for families of two, and under that level for families of three, placing them in roughly the bottom third of household income for NY State. Based on self-reported data, approximately 22% of Maria Students are eligible for SNAP benefits.
One of the strengths of Maria College’s opportunity education is to prepare students for well-paying jobs in the healthcare fields, such as nursing, occupational therapy assistants, and healthcare management. With one of the highest NCLEX-RN pass rates in the area, Maria’s program graduates are well prepared to step into healthcare roles. Financial setbacks can be devastating for students who are balancing many priorities, Ms. Battell said, and resources like the Maria Market Food Pantry are a lifeline when they are needed. Over 340 students and their family members last year turned to the food pantry for help.
About Maria College
Founded in 1958, Maria College is one of 17 colleges and universities in the United States sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. The private, co-educational, Catholic college in Albany serves approximately 900 full and part-time students in Bachelor’s Degree and Associate Degree programs, as well as a Master’s Degree program in Occupational Therapy. Our programs of study include liberal arts, healthcare management, nursing, occupational therapy assistant, and health and occupational sciences.
About New York State Industries for the Disabled (NYSID)
NYSID is a 501(c)(3) with the mission of “advancing employment and other opportunities for individuals with disabilities.” Established in 1975, NYSID facilitates employment opportunities for nearly 6,000 New Yorkers with disabilities annually through New York’s Preferred Source Program. NYSID’s community rehabilitation member agencies and corporate partners are located throughout the state, providing jobs in the community and in production facilities. For more information, visit www.nysid.org.