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QCC’s Legislative Breakfast and Food Pantry Ribbon Cutting Spotlighted Student Hunger

Contact: Karen Hutner
Office of Institutional Communications
khutner [at]

Release Date: 

WORCESTER, MA— September 26, 2022 — Local legislators, community organizations, food pantry donors, and members of the Quinsigamond Community College community gathered together on Friday, September 23, 2022, for a legislative breakfast and ribbon cutting of the college’s HomePlate Food Pantry and Resource Center.  The morning events featured QCC students who shared their stories and the impact the food pantry and resource center has had on theirs and their students’ lives.

The event was moderated by Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society President Lindsey Colgate, who shared her experiences as a college student at QCC.

“I’m a single mom; I’ve dealt with homelessness. I was even working full-time and just couldn’t get out of that hole. Now I’m here and I never thought I’d be running an honor society or speaking at an event like this, but it shows that community college offers so much more than a degree,” Colgate said.

Many members of the QCC community referenced how QCC’s HomePlate Food Pantry and Resource Center allowed students such as Colgate to continue their education by assisting with basic needs.

“The food pantry is used by many types of people who just want to better their lives. Now they don’t have to choose between school and work,” said QCC Student Resource Manager Bonnie Coleman, who added that this is helping to remove the stigma from food insecurity.

A student survey done in 2018 by Wisconsin Hope Lab found that close to 50 percent of students at QCC were food insecure and 11% were homeless. To address this issue, QCC opened the first iteration of the college’s food pantry in July 2018. In 2021 the food pantry doubled in size due to increased student need.

Today, the HomePlate Food Pantry and Resource Center offers fresh produce, dairy, and personal hygiene products, in addition to shelf-stable food items through the Worcester County Food Bank and Giya Foods. The food pantry serves approximately 150 students per week, with many who also feed their families. Thanks to a grant from United Way, which provided a software program similar to Instacart, students are able to safely pick up food each week in a grocery store-type setting. In the coming weeks the Greater Worcester Community Foundation will also be providing funding for a refrigerated truck and food lockers to increase efficiency.

“It’s a truly collaborative effort,” said Dean of Student Affairs, Dr. Theresa Vecchio. “Our own Hotel Restaurant Management program is creating grab-and-go meals to supply the HomePlate Food Pantry.”

Julia Rooney, a QCC criminal justice student, spoke about her experiences working in the food pantry as an employee.

“I’m thanked by many different people, including someone I’m lucky enough to now call a friend. She told me that without the food pantry, she and her two-year-old son would still be living in a homeless shelter. I’m happy to tell you that now she has a full-time job and an apartment and is on her way to graduating this spring,” Rooney said.

At the breakfast QCC alumna and former PTK student Ashley Woodland spoke of her challenges to get to higher education, as well as her work with the HomePlate Food Pantry and Resource Center.

“Thanks to my involvement in the HomePlate Food Pantry and Resource Center I was able to attend my dream school, Lasell University. Now I work full time as a housing special and human rights officer for a social service organization in Worcester County,” Woodland said.

State Senator Harriette Harriet Chandler attended the breakfast. Chandler presented a congratulatory citation from the state senate for QCC’s work in fighting food insecurity.

“I’ve seen this school from the beginning, and I’m honored to see what it’s become. This breakfast is an important opportunity to educate your legislators. You (QCC) ask for very little, but when you do I know it’s important. It’s been a pleasure to represent you,” Chandler said.

“Our responsibility here is not just to listen, but to act. We are lucky to have a team at QCC that acts,” Chairman of the QCC Board of Trustees, Alex Zequeira added.

Quinsigamond Community College is the most affordable higher education in Worcester County. As a regional leader in education and workforce development, QCC serves the diverse educational needs of Central Massachusetts by providing affordable, accessible, and high quality programming leading to transfer, career, and lifelong learning.