The Seahawk Marketplace: New location, same mission
The Seahawk Marketplace has moved to the planetarium building on Central Campus for students to stop in and get free snacks and groceries. Dana Bartholomew, the new Food Insecurity Coordinator said, “Times are tough enough as it is and the financial stability of a lot of people is extremely challenging. With Seahawk Outreach Services (SOS), we are not only able to provide resources when it comes to food and hygiene insecurity, we also have resources such as laptop loaners, the Lyft transit program, peer mentoring and Male Minority Initiative (MMI).”
Bartholomew, who also happens to be a single mom with three kids, said she knows what it’s like to be hungry. “I myself have gone without plenty of times. What intrigued me about working with SOS is to overcome the stigma about people coming to food pantries. I myself, as a mom, would never ask for help. We would just go without. When I got older, I learned that you can go much further and do much more, if you’re willing to accept help.”
With Broward College able to provide these extra resources, it tremendously alleviates the burden of worry from its students, who are often wondering what they’re going to have on their table for dinner. “I see students come in, some are homeless or couch-hopping. They’re still in school and they’re determined not to let their situation limit them. Getting to know them and what they’re working hard to overcome along with being able to help, is by far one of the most rewarding careers that I’ve ever had,” expresses Bartholomew.
“I was so happy to become involved and get more and more students engaged in this program. We’re all in this together. BC is a great community and I have learned that between the students, the faculty and the staff, everyone truly has each other’s back. I’m excited we’ll be opening this program on South Campus come February. North Campus is up next,” she said.
The Seahawk Marketplace on Central Campus is currently open five days a week. This includes Monday from 3 to 7 p.m. as well as the option for students to drop in anywhere from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and on Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. “We’re a family here,” she said, and if anyone looks at these hours and knows they can’t make it and they don’t have anyone who can come shop for them, they can always reach out to her and she will make arrangements so they get the food and resources they need. “My students are like family, and they will do anything to help. We have built such a good culture here.” Within 24 hours of moving the Marketplace to the planetarium, 40 students volunteered to help unload and sort a truck delivery of 20 pallets of food.
The weekly Monday truck deliveries are a large undertaking. Seahawk Marketplace volunteers come in at 10 a.m. They receive a Retail Direct Drop and all of the volunteers sort through 20 pallets of food from Feeding South Florida, a grant program from Florida Blue. “All of our food is from Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, and Publix.”
SOS has taken in 70,000 pallets of food since partnering with Feeding South Florida. Before Bartholomew came in and took the reins, the Marketplace was only receiving two deliveries a month. They are now juicing produce before it’s no longer good, providing students with healthy juice meals and snacks between classes. The food that is past its prime gets donated to Happi Farm.
Everyone is encouraged to stop by and grab a healthy snack free of charge between classes. Baskets of oranges and apples are frequently on display outside the door. Students don’t even have to go inside.
The Seahawk Marketplace is a resource for all students regardless of their financial background, sex, religion, or nationality. The only requirement to shop with the Seahawk Marketplace is being a Broward College student. “We take care of the whole family. When a student registers, we ask them how many live in their home, and ask who you are shopping for. We make sure all food needs are met,” said Bartholomew. All information is kept confidential.
Tours from classes and other on campus exposure helps eliminate the stigma of receiving help to alleviate student stress. Alba Perez, Mickey Dao and Touchero Koniaki are on staff with Bartholomew in combination with the support of over 50 volunteers. MMI Male Majority Initiative and Peer Leaders provide the greatest volunteer support. SOS and Seahawk Marketplace are here to stay, helping benefit the academic endeavors and wellbeing of Broward College students.
Volunteers and donations are always in need and welcomed, especially hygiene products. Drop off your donations to the planetarium building during the Marketplace hours, just make sure the food and hygiene products are sealed.