PUHI — Some 40% of Kaua‘i Community College students reported they are food-insecure, Chancellor Joe Daisy said last week.
Based on a survey done last year, “We had 40% of the students that responded that said they could not afford to eat balanced meals, and we had 40% worried that food would run out before they got money to buy more,” Daisy said.
“We had 22% of our students who were unable to pay the full amount of a utility bill, and 17% reported that they underpaid their rent or their mortgage.”
After learning this, KCC quickly gathered about $140,000 to be dispersed to students in need.
“Then, through the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) from the federal government, we had an additional $267,000 that we were able to push out to students who had really significant need. And we’re looking forward to the next stimulus,” Daisy said.
Daisy said the next stimulus is going to come to them with another stipulation.
“We have to award the same amount of funds to students again to support them as we did (before),” Daisy said. “So as the funds come in to support us, we’ll be able to ensure that our students will receive at least another $267,000 in relief in support.”
Daisy’s comments came during a virtual meeting with the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce.
“In some cases, the role we play in the community has been paused,” Daisy said in response to a question from chamber CEO and President Mark Perriello.
Daisy pointed out that his faculty and staff took appropriate measures to keep safe while still providing students continued support in apprentice programs as well as continuing education and training.
“Our work in the community to support workforce development, where we are able to do some of that if we can ensure the appropriate social distancing can be observed,” Daisy said.
“We do a really great job serving our students in our community, to help them meet their educational needs, the workforce development needs. But I have talked about this, the impact that COVID-19 has had on our businesses, and we rely on our businesses to provide work opportunities for our students, internship opportunities and opportunities for folks in our community to serve in our advisory boards.”
He continued: “A lot of those relationships that we have, I hope beyond COVID-19, will become a little bit more robust as we have an opportunity to actually come together face-to-face.”
KCC has faced a hiring freeze and challenges with some of its programs during the pandemic.
“The nursing program is actually down to two full-time faculty members,” Daisy said. “And our faculty are working and caring overload to ensure that our students can stay on course. But one of the challenges is the number of students a faculty member could take to the hospital for clinical. They had to reduce by 50%. So that meant that rather than one faculty member taking eight at a time, they could only take four.”
He continued: “And so they had to make two trips to ensure that the eight actually had the clinical experience. But I think it’s a strong program that will continue to be a strong program.”
Daisy discussed the significant financial challenges that his college faces, by the state in particular.
“Impact on the University of Hawai‘i and the community colleges we’re looking at right now $100 million in reduction at the University of Hawai‘i as a whole,” Daisy said.
“And $23 million of that are reductions that the community colleges are going to have to absorb. And so I think understanding the enormity of that amount, and the impact that it will have on our campus, I’m convinced that we are going to look very different on the other side of this financial crisis than we did before.”
Daisy said 78% of KCC’s students attend part time because they have to work because it’s very expensive to live in Hawai‘i.
“There are college resources available to connect our students with the SNAP (formerly food stamps) benefits,” Daisy said. “We also have a food pantry on campus where we’re providing food to needy students. So I would simply, you know, get in touch with us and we can provide you with resources that can assist you immediately.”
“I hope that in whatever way you can, that you do feel compelled to support our students here,” Daisy said. “They’re wonderful young men and women. They’re trying to find their way, they’re trying to better their lives, and I don’t know of anything more noble than to support them in those efforts.”
Stephanie Shinno, features, education, business, and community reporter can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.