Bossier Parish Community College has received a hunger-free campus designation from the Louisiana Board of Regents. BPCC is among the 31 public and 4 private Louisiana higher education institutions who met the criteria set forth in Act 719 of the 2022 Regular Legislative Session.
In 2018, BPCC was the first to have a college-initiated food pantry in northwest Louisiana to help students access emergency food items on campus. The College opened the Cavalier Care Center in 2020, which centralizes wrap-around services for students. Services include a USDA approved food pantry, career closet, laptop loan program and information on affordable housing, childcare, etc.
Sandra Roberson, Director of the Cavalier Care Center, says services are a hand up, not a handout, to keep students progressing through their college journey.
“Our students have so many barriers that they face going through college. If we can eliminate those barriers and remove those obstacles, and continue to encourage them, then it’s a game changer for them,” Roberson said. “The Cavalier Care Center is a safe place for our students to feel hope and love. We are a caring campus and we want them to know that someone on campus cares about them.”
A 2020 national study indicated that approximately 29% of students at four-year colleges and 38% at two-year institutions experience food insecurity. Act 719, sponsored by State Representative Barbara Freiberg, established criteria for Louisiana higher education institutions to earn a hunger-free campus designation and authorized the Hunger-Free Campus competitive grant program to support the institutions in their efforts.
“As a former classroom teacher and campus administrator, I know firsthand the importance of nutrition to a student’s academic success,” Freiberg said. “Research shows hungry students have lower GPAs and struggle more to earn their degrees than students who know where their next meal is coming from. I was proud to sponsor this legislation and look forward to supporting legislative funding for the grant program next year.”
Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed says the idea that college students don’t have access to food is a reality that many people are not aware of.
“I am proud to see the tremendous campus response to this designation, which signals both their understanding of the problem and their commitment to address it. We aim to successfully address this barrier to student wellness and academic success.”
The Cavalier Care Center is located on the first floor of the Emmett E. Cope Student Services Building (F) on the BPCC campus, 6220 East Texas Street in Bossier City. Visit www.bpcc.edu/CavalierCareCenter for more information.