It is my honor to nominate Sarah Lombardo for a Newman Civic Fellowship. Her leadership in addressing food insecurity on our college campus and her work with the homeless population in our community reflects her commitment to social change and her demonstrated motivation to encourage civic engagement among our students, faculty, and staff.
During the summer of 2015, we became increasingly aware of food insecurity among our students. In September of 2016, we opened a food pantry, known as the Magic Food Bus. Sarah worked as the assistant to the Project Coordinator, Professor Judith Felton. She assisted with raising awareness within the college community and our external community about food insecurity. She researched the prevalence of food insecurity across colleges nationwide and within Connecticut and spoke about the need with a sense of compassion and urgency that led to action. Due to Sarah's efforts, we were able to recruit student volunteers to staff the bus, secure food donations to meet our needs, respond to press inquiries and television interviews, seek funding, and develop a sustainability plan. Sarah learned the complexities of a start-up project, and never lost sight of the ultimate goal: to ensure student success through meeting basic needs.
The curriculum for Middlesex Community College requires two internships from Human Services students. My internships have been with the Magic Food Bus. The bus is a food pantry which helps address food insecurity on our Middlesex Community College Campus. Through my research and experiences in visiting other agencies that work to alleviate hunger, I gained an understanding of how to organize a pantry, the intake process, how best to meet the needs of shoppers and, most importantly, how to impact communities for change. Before the Magic Food Bus opened, I did research on the statistics about food insecurity. I found studies that were conducted by the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, which looked exclusively at community colleges. They discovered that one in five students face the challenge of food insecurity, and 13% were homeless. This information stunned me and provided further motivation for my engagement with initiatives that address hunger and homelessness. During my internship, I have had a variety of responsibilities including staffing, marketing, campaigning for food, and assisting with the process of grant writing. I hope to be considered for this nomination so that I may continue with my work.