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All 11 campuses provide nutritional support and resources for students

When students are concerned about where their next meal is coming from, food insecurity can lead to a lower GPA, poor mental health, and limited social life. Understanding the importance of students having access to adequate sources of food is what compelled Colorado Mountain College to ensure each of its 11 campuses could help students obtain affordable food. Last month, the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) recognized CMC’s efforts with a Hunger-Free campus designation.

“At CMC we have always looked to support students who may have limited access to food,” said Shane Larson, CMC vice president of student affairs.

Colorado Mountain College’s fall semester began Aug. 23. The college is offering students a range of options – from online to in-person learning – at its campuses, including those in Summit County at CMC Breckenridge and Dillon. Photo Stephanie Stocking

A benchmark for nutritional health

By creating the Hunger-Free designation, the CDHE and its partners are encouraging colleges and universities to promote success beyond the classroom by providing various ways for students to access meals and groceries.

“Our work on the Hunger-Free designation allowed us as an institution to develop new ideas as well as expand existing programs to all campuses,” Larson said.

To qualify, each CMC campus has free food pantries in place, such as The Community Market located at the Vail Valley campus or provides an immediate link to local pantries. CMC Spring Valley at Glenwood Springs offers students non-perishable food items and occasionally donated vegetables from area gardens.

Also in place is a program called “Swipe Out Hunger,” in which Sodexo and CMC provide swipe cards for students to purchase meals. Extra food and meals are also available to students through the culinary program at the Breckenridge and Steamboat campuses.

Assistance comes from communities throughout the college’s nine-county district as well. Among available resources are grocery and convenience stores, farmers’ markets, and other food outlets that take part in a federal program called SNAP. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program helps eligible low-income students purchase food. A multilingual program called 2-1-1 Colorado also connects students confidentially to statewide resources, while Hunger Free Colorado offers a food resource hotline.

CMC Glenwood Campus

Healthy body, healthy mind

In addition, earlier this fall, Colorado Mountain College earned a Healthy Minds designation from the CDHE for its work to provide students with mental health services and support. Along with the Hunger-Free designation, CMC is one of just six colleges and universities in the state to earn both classifications.

“We are excited to implement these new initiatives that provide the resources to help students succeed,” Larson said.

Visit Food Resources at https://coloradomtn.edu/food%20resources/ to learn more about CMC’s efforts towards a hunger-free college; and https://bit.ly/3H7jcoB for more about the college’s mental health resources.

Featured image: In addition to food pantries and nutritional resources, students often have access to meals and fresh vegetables from campuses that offer culinary programs, such as here at the Steamboat campus’s culinary kitchen. Photo by Ed Kosmicki