Benefits Hub provides wrap-around support for Shoreline CC students

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Benefits Hub Coordinators Collin Fartale (left) and Solange Aguilar
in the food pantry located in the PUB Room 9203.
Photo courtesy SCC

Whether they need connection to financial resources or food for the weekend, Shoreline Community College students have an additional wrap-around service on their side: Benefits Hub. A United Way project, the goal of the Benefits Hub is to combat homelessness, food insecurity, and other hardships that may lead students to struggle or drop out.

“Outside of their schoolwork, we work with college students on most aspects of their lives that affect their ability to be successful in college,” said Solange Aguilar, Benefits Hub coordinator. “By taking a holistic approach to what students need as people, we can help them better succeed as learners.”

The Benefits Hub is located in the heart of the campus in the Pagoda Union Building (PUB), a high-traffic location intentionally chosen for its visibility.

“We want our services to be easy to access,” said Aguilar. “And we also want to help end the stigma that comes from needing help. Because Benefits Hub is right in the middle of campus, rather than tucked away, it’s just like any other service the college offers and one students should feel comfortable using.”

The Hub hosts free workshops on budgeting, credit, financial aid, nutrition, and how to eat healthily on limited finances, among other topics. It also connects students to resources both on and off campus.

“A lot of people don’t know what resources they might qualify for,” said Collin Fartale, Benefits Hub coordinator. “One of the biggest parts of our job is making sure students are aware of what options exist and how to access and use them.”

Benefits Hub connects students to myriad on- and off-campus resources including organizations that offer help with financial assistance for groceries and living expenses, discounted transit and utilities, and free or discounted health insurance, among others.

One of the most visible and popular features of the Benefits Hub is the food pantry, housed in the Hub’s offices in PUB 9203. Stocked by donations, the food pantry offers canned goods, ready-to-eat, and protein items as well as some fresh foods for students facing food insecurity. It also stocks toiletries and personal hygiene items.

The Food Pantry was started in 2013 by leadership in the College’s Center for Equity and Engagement, Women’s Center, and Multicultural Center. The partnership evolved into the (now) Benefits Hub.

“Data shows that community college students tend to be more food insecure than their university counterparts,” said Aguilar. “The food pantry aims to mitigate that.” 

In addition to providing everyday food staples through the pantry, Benefits Hub also runs special programs throughout the year. They provided 19 holiday-themed meal bags over Thanksgiving and 32 winter break meal bags.

The pantry recently added a new feature called “Logan’s Lunch Box,” a collection of pet food donations for students who struggle to afford supplies for their pets. The name of the collection box honors Logan, the late golden retriever of Dr. Cheryl Roberts, the College’s president.

While the move to the PUB has helped Benefits Hub gain visibility, they know there are still more students to reach. 

“The biggest challenge with the pantry, and all of our services, is getting the word out so students know we are here and they can come to us for help,” said Fartale. 
“Figuring out how to balance studies with the financial realities of attending college can be tricky,” said Fartale. “We’re here to offer another safety net so students can achieve their educational goals.”

Open weekdays, Benefits Hub is available to all Shoreline Community College students and is located in PUB 9203. Learn more about other student support services on Shoreline’s campus.

Shoreline Community College is located at 16101 Greenwood Ave N, Shoreline 98133. A campus map is HERE.


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