Bunker Hill Community College
Bunker Hill Community College food pantry brings flexibility, efficiency, and dignity to students and staff with Parcel Pending by Quadient refrigerated lockers
Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) is a public community college in Boston, Massachusetts, serving over 16,000 diverse students, including international, first-generation, and single-parent students. With two main campuses in Charlestown and Chelsea as well as three satellite campuses and several instructional centers throughout the Greater Boston Area, BHCC is the largest community college in Massachusetts.
|BHCC recognized that more than half of its student population struggled with food insecurity and launched the DISH Food Pantry program in response. The mission of the DISH is to Deliver Information, Sustenance, and Health to the BHCC campus community, and offers Grab & Go and Pantry Pick-Up options to students. To reduce the stigma surrounding food insecurity, BHCC wanted to offer a flexible, private, and dignified experience to students who need food assistance.||BHCC Senior Special Programs Coordinator, Molly Hansen, researched and found Parcel Pending by Quadient. In April 2022, three locker towers, with two being refrigerated (for a total of 16 locker boxes), were installed and launched in the Charlestown campus, and another set of lockers will be installed in the Chelsea Campus by April 2023. Thanks to the support and efforts from BHCC administration, the DISH became the first college food pantry in the country to implement refrigerated smart lockers for student pick-up.||In 2022, the DISH fulfilled 1,690 pick-ups for 499 individual clients through the “DISH and Dash Lockers”. Now, the lockers serve 50-60 students per week and help alleviate any anxiety they have for accessing food. Students love the flexibility and how easy it is to use the lockers, while staff appreciate the ease with which they are able to coordinate and fulfill orders. With the lockers’ cloud-based software, staff can check on locker inventory from anywhere and organize pick-ups more efficiently, eliminating the time-consuming, manual facilitation of pick-ups.|
Alleviating food insecurity with respect and dignity
In September 2019, BHCC launched the DISH Food Pantry program in response to growing food insecurity among the campus community. The college administration and BHCC student government pushed to address this issue by opening a designated resource for students to receive food and other basic needs and bringing in Molly Hansen to manage this initiative. As Senior Special Programs Coordinator, Hansen led the launch of the DISH Food Pantry and continues to advance its growth.
The mission of the DISH Food Pantry Is to Deliver Information, Sustenance, and Health to the BHCC campus community. The DISH offers two different services to students—Grab & Go and Pantry Pick-Up. Grab & Go allows students to walk in and pick up snacks and frozen meals whenever it is convenient for them (during office hours) to help get them through the day. Pantry Pick-Up offers staple pantry items, baby products, and hygiene supplies to meet the bulk of their needs.
“Our administration and student government recognized that more than half of our student population struggled with food insecurity. Of this figure, three out of five of them also have children,” said Hansen. “So, our students are incredibly busy. They work demanding jobs, and many times are only available after business hours or on the weekends. We wanted to come up with a way that students could access their food pantry orders within a time schedule that worked for them and for the staff at Bunker Hill. We also try to make the experience dignified, private, and very similar to a typical grocery store to reduce the stigma surrounding food insecurity.”
|“Since introducing the lockers, on-campus pick-ups have become incredibly flexible, efficient, and dignified.”|
|Molly Hansen, Senior Special Programs Coordinator, Bunker Hill Community College|
Refrigerated smart lockers deliver more flexibility and privacy for BHCC students
To address these challenges, Hansen researched various parcel locker solutions providers from around the world and found Parcel Pending by Quadient. “It’s important to us that the company we work with understands the higher education setting, so I really appreciate Parcel Pending’s work with other higher education institutions,” said Hansen.
Within three months of contracting with Parcel Pending, Hansen had three smart locker towers installed and launched in the Charlestown campus. Two of the towers, a total of 16 locker boxes, are refrigerated, allowing the DISH to store perishable items like fresh produce and frozen meat and vegetables. The remaining tower serves as a non-perishable control tower for items such as pasta, rice, canned foods, baby products, and hygiene products.
In 2022, the DISH fulfilled 1,690 pick-ups for 499 individual clients through the aptly named “DISH and Dash Lockers”. Now, the lockers serve 50-60 students per week and help alleviate any anxiety they have for accessing food. Students receive texts directly to their phone and have the flexibility and privacy to pick up food and other goods when they need it. “The feedback that we’ve received on both the lockers and the inventory has been incredibly positive. Our students love the flexibility and how easy it is to use the lockers,” said Hansen.
|“My experience with the DISH & Dash lockers has been excellent. They are easy to find and access.”|
|Student, Bunker Hill Community College|
Hansen and her team of student staff are also now able to coordinate and fulfill orders with greater ease. Prior to using the smart lockers, Hansen had to schedule individual orders via multiple communication methods and facilitate pick-ups in person – a time-consuming and inefficient process. “The lockers are great for the staff because we’re able to put in all the orders that students need before we leave for the day. With the lockers’ cloud-based software, we can check on locker inventory from anywhere and organize pick-ups better,” said Hansen. The lockers are also used to accept food donation drop-offs. For those who wish to drop off donations after hours, a locker is assigned for them to leave the donations in, and staff can pick up the donations the next day from the lockers.
Pioneering better services for the campus community with Parcel Pending by Quadient collaboration
Pictured Above: Molly Hansen, Senior Special Programs Coordinator at Bunker Hill Community College, showing students the DISH & Dash Lockers
With the positive results from the lockers, BHCC has received a grant to expand the locker offerings to their Chelsea campus. Having this extra set of lockers in Chelsea will increase food access for a large population of students who may not have the time or resources to go to the main campus to pick up food. Hansen credits the support and efforts from BHCC’s president and upper administration for procuring funding for the lockers through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) and for the DISH being the first college food pantry in the country to implement refrigerated smart lockers for student pick-up.
The lockers have been so successful that Hansen has been advocating for them at conferences for student affairs administrators, and other institutions are taking heed. “Student affairs is all about increasing student confidence and dignity and support. College food insecurity is something that has grown over the past couple of years, especially with the pandemic. By having this distribution method with the lockers, we’re able to expand access to students who otherwise may be uncomfortable using a food pantry. The lockers really increase the dignity for our students. I’m hearing that other colleges also want this for their campus, so I’m excited for there to be a network of college food pantries that have these lockers so that we’re able to collaborate and discuss different ways to use them,” said Hansen.
|“We’ve had a great—even personal—experience with our client representative, and the online and email responses from our project management team have been great. In the beginning, there were a lot of questions and a lot of unknowns about how we were going to use the lockers. The project management team helped me figure out how this operation was going to work. Continuing into the expansion of the Chelsea lockers, they’ve been helping me with ideas on how the two campus lockers can collaborate and make it easier for everyone. It’s been really great overall!”|
|Molly Hansen, Senior Special Programs Coordinator, Bunker Hill Community College|
Quadient is the market leader in parcel management and smart mail solutions for colleges and universities worldwide. With more than 70 million packages delivered annually, Parcel Pending by Quadient has successfully helped thousands of educational institutions preserve their reputation and bottom line with our contact-free intelligent parcel locker solutions.
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