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Rally for Food Service on Campus Apr 22 #NCCFOODFIGHT

Hundreds of students and many faculty showed up on Monday, April 22, 2024, to call on the NCC administration to restore campus dining. The donation of pizza by Previti Pizza & Papazzio Dining in New Hyde Park to feed our students was heartily appreciated by all, and fueled the speakers. We do not, in fact, have a complete list of everyone who stepped up to the microphone and spoke! The need for a cafeteria on campus to feed 11,000 students, plus faculty and staff was a repeated theme. Kaldwin Lerandy Ladislaw, majoring in biology, was offended that the idea of closing all food services could even be considered by the administration. Isabella Chumpitaz, president of Student Organization of Latines (S.O.L.) was indignant that C. A. O. Conzatti would suggest, as she did in a recent news program, that ubering in food is a viable solution for students, saying that would make the price of a bagel $20.00. Ariel Silberman, the leader of Achilles, pointed out that readily available nutritious food is a serious health need for many students, such as those who are diabetic. Godlee Sainvilus, president of Haraya Black Student Union, noted how unfair the sudden closing of all food services is for the staff working there – some of whom are students, including herself.  Rebbeca Baird and Jimmy Kelly, students in the NCC Aspires Program, addressed the social element of purchasing food and dining with others – grab and go doesn’t cut it; dining halls are critical. Parents Denise Baird and Vanessa Kelly seconded their statements and expressed appreciation that students and faculty are organizing to bring a much needed cafeteria back. All student speakers expressed their appreciation of faculty generally and for faculty organizing this rally.

Faculty who spoke included:  NCCFT President Faren Siminoff, who noted that the administration has known for some time that the contract with Compass was ending and did nothing, allowing a food desert to form on campus. Prof. Thomas Bruckner, who suggested that if Compass food services felt that they weren’t selling enough food to be profitable it might be because their items, like $10.00 sandwiches and salads, were too expensive for many students — the administration should have listened to answers in surveys about dining needs better. NCCFT Secretary Suzanne Kaebnick pointed out that the campus is large and isolated, without bodegas or fast food restaurants within walking distance. The creation of a food desert on campus has increased need, which the results of a survey conducted by the NEST and the Hope Center showed is very high: “61% of students at NCC have experienced food insecurity or housing insecurity or homelessness in the previous year.” Prof. Rodney Patterson Shabazz, chair of Africana Studies, pointed out that closing food services on campus fits into a pattern of neglect hurting minority populations, another example of which is moving disparate departments like Africana Studies into the Art Department, of all places.

We are grateful for the many faculty that helped organize and execute this:  Fran Viscovich, Valerie Lagakis, Sandra Keegan, Rich Ginsburg, Catherine Lewis, Marcia McNair, and many more who answered the call for help. Finally, we are grateful for the media who covered this student and faculty rally for the Restoration of Food Service on campus:  Below is coverage from Newsday, News 12 Long Island, and NBC New York.

3 Responses

  1. In the first announcement I was lead to believe that this was a sudden decision for food service to pull out of contract.
    In you are stating that admin knew the contract was expiring and didn’t secure vendor (s). Did they even try? Completely indifferent to needs of people on campus.
    Keep hammering out students needs use student voices. No faculty.

  2. This is an important campaign to have begun and to maintain. Contrary to college emails circulating that people were just “whining” this rally shows the ways that students, workers and families are being harmed by the absence of a campus cafeteria, especially to those who don’t drive to campus. As more than one speaker pointed out, our campus is huge–try walking from G or CCB to Starbucks on Hempstead Turnpike or to Stewart Avenue–its not a quick three minute route like it is by car. It would take the better space of 40 minutes plus to get there and back on foot–along dangerous roads. Hempstead Turnpike has been identified as one of the most dangerous roads for pedestrians in NY State–Hofstra has pedestrian overpasses for a reason.
    And charity, while kind, is not the long-term solution–every day since this decision, there have been free sandwiches handed out in the CCB–who is paying for that? Students are not charity cases. Everyone wants the dignity of choosing and paying for their meal–its true that the cafeteria prices were absurd over-the-top-expensive, but students often were willing to pay for a $7 caramel latte at Starbucks, so I’m not sure that it was just economic decision-making driving student choice about where to spend their money. Starbucks had a certain ambiance, too, that was perhaps more of what students wanted, and it employed students!! Lets also not forget that visiting groups of students from outside NCC visit our campus 2-3X a week-they are from Nassau BOCES and Viscardi Center, they volunteer at the Nest when they are here and now they have lost a social space on campus that was important to them.

    I attended late to the rally and didn’t speak but I was heartened to see so many there and to see students NOT whining but speaking out and being heard. Students across the United States are protesting against US Foreign policy; our students are fighting to be heard about FOOD!! Let’s think about that and how absurd that is.

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