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KCC opens food pantry to help feed cash−strapped students

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Kingsborough Community College sits in one of the most affluent sections of Brooklyn, but some of its students are so needy that the school has opened up a food pantry and taken to handing out leftovers to help them make ends meet.

“This is America, this is 2009 − we are the wealthiest country in the world and we have men and women coming to school asking for food,” Kingsborough Community College spokesperson Saul Katz told the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association recently.

According to Katz, students attending the college located at 2001 Oriental Boulevard started asking for food about six months ago.

In response, the college set out food bins around the campus and asked faculty and staff to donate food items.

The food pantry debuted in May and is now open two days a weeks staffed with student workers and a mental health clinician.

It is reportedly the only such food pantry operating in the CUNY system.

While not providing specific figures, the college says that there is a portion of its student body that is actually homeless or in “transition.”

“Across the nation there are students that are homeless,” KCC Dean of Student Affairs Paulette Dalpes told this newspaper. “CUNY in particular has an awareness and concern for students that fit into those categories.”

In addition to the food pantry, KCC has also arranged for its on−campus food vendors to provide leftovers every night for students in need.

The City University of New York is the largest urban public university in the country and is made up of 23 separate institutions including five other community colleges and 11 senior colleges.

Costs are going up everywhere. Next fall, tuition at KCC is slated to jump $600.

TAP payments will be adjusted for low−income students to help offset rising tuition − but all students are still hard−pressed to meet the other economic challenges associated with their studies, not the least of which is the high cost of textbooks.

Mayor Bloomberg touched on the sore topic at KCC’s recent commencement exercises.

“The mayor announced real efforts to look at the cost of textbooks,” Dalpes said. “That’s a concern to learn how to reduce costs.”

KCC will keep the food pantry going throughout the summer and is considering working with the Food Bank for New York City.

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