Food Insecurity on Campus Podcast: Ep 2

My name is Molly Jean Henebury. I am a graduating senior studying Nutrition and Dietetics as well as Public Health. This semester, however, I got to dip my toes in the world of communications. As part of my Advanced Applications in Community Nutrition course, I worked with Erica Moura and Simmons Radio: The Shark to create a podcast addressing food insecurity on Simmons campus.

Molly Jean Henebury, Contributing Writer

When Simmons campus closed, students were left with a slew of questions. The uncertainties for on-campus students who require residential housing were overwhelming. These students were initially allowed to stay in their dorm rooms and continued to have meals in the Fens. Students’ circumstances would change drastically as the semester carried on, moving to hotels and figuring out meals, all while continuing their studies.

In this episode, I interview fellow Simmons student Sarah Lemire about her experience generally, but also in terms of how this situation affected her food security. Sarah is working at a local Boston Hospital as an essential employee and just finished her senior year at Simmons. 

Additionally, I reached out to Simmons Residence Life for comment on the choices made during this period. Below are their comments in full.

Why are we utilizing hotels rather than buildings on residential campus?

“Utilizing hotels is the best way for us to ensure the health and safety of students and staff during this pandemic. Not only do they prevent asymptomatic staff and students from interacting and potentially infecting each other, they offer individual bathroom and kitchen facilities that help with social distancing. Because of our campus’ location in the heart of the Longwood Medical Area, we knew the space would likely be needed for workers caring for COVID-19 patients. As a result, we’d have to create complex quarantine zones that could further endanger the safety of residents and staff who remained on campus. “

How do you feel, in light of the circumstances, the residential life office’s response has been in this situation?

“Simmons is working hard to support students during the pandemic. We’ve offered a number of resources and services to help students during the moveout process, and students who remain have been provided with funds for meals. We also established the Support our Student fund to help students in need with food, technology, housing and other support. This is an unprecedented time and we’re proud of the strength and resiliency of our community. We’ll continue to work together and support each other during this crisis.”  

What are the next steps? How far ahead are we looking?

“While our initial focus was on helping students safely move out and make the transition to online learning, we now have a better sense of what to expect under these new circumstances. Senior leaders at Simmons University meet daily to discuss a number of issues related to the coronavirus, including discussions around fall planning. We are also creating virtual programs to keep students connected and engaged. As we continue to plan, we’ll keep students updated and informed with as much transparency as possible.” 

Are there any other details you want the student body to know?

“Our first priority is always the safety of our students and staff. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges that must be navigated quickly. In the face of these circumstances, our students have shown great resiliency and understanding. We see and value students’ sacrifices and their strength during this immensely difficult period. We ask that students continue to reach out to our offices if there is anything they need, and we will continue to provide support and resources however we can.”

As the situation continues to evolve, students and administration alike are learning more about what is working and what is not. It is critical that we as a population communicate about these experiences so that moving forward we can create better spaces for our students, faculty, and staff.

Food insecurity was a present reality for students well before the age of COVID-19, and if anything, this situation has illuminated how important it is that this issue be tackled full force.

To catch up with the previous podcast, click here.