Remembering Matthew Roll

Remembering Matthew Roll

Celebrating the life of our beloved friend and team member

By Emily Gallion, Grant & Metrics Manager/Advocacy Manager, and Caitlyn McIntosh, Volunteer Support & Intake

 

The Foodbank team was heartbroken to learn that one of our own, Matthew Roll, passed away unexpectedly last Tuesday October 12, 2021. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.

Matt was, by all assessments, an absolutely indispensable member of our Foodbank Family during his six years with us. There was not a part of our organization Matt did not touch. He started his journey as a Warehouse team member, and at the time of his passing he was cross training to be our Chief Operating Officer and in charge of our Business Office. His influence on every aspect of our organization will survive for years to come.

Due in part to his own prior involvement with the criminal justice system, Matt was a phenomenal advocate for employees who had previously been incarcerated. He was one of our very first re-entry hires. In many ways, Matt was a great example that a criminal record does not need to define the rest of your life. Matt’s enormous heart, never-ending patience, and calm energy will be missed by all who came into contact with him.

While The Foodbank will never be quite the same without him, we will honor his legacy by continuing to hire and support people who have previously been incarcerated. We are so grateful for the time we had with him.

Matt had a lasting impact on each team member he met during his time with us. Here’s what they had to say:

“Matt’s ‘creative problem-solving techniques’ to conquer any task would put a smile on your face in admiration. Matt’s kindness, unending patience, intelligence, and sense of humor paved a lighted path directly to your heart.” –Rachel Hilderbrand

“Matthew was always the first person I could count on for a laugh, I will forever miss his impressions of past memories at The Foodbank and seeing a smile light up his face. He taught us all to never take things too seriously and to always take the last donut from the box… and the Reese cup from someone else’s desk.” –Lee Lauren Truesdale

“No matter what question I asked him, he never made me feel stupid for asking.” -Jessica Plummer

“Tell Matt I will always be grateful to him for teaching me everything I know about food banking. For always leading by example – a true leader. Never afraid to be on the frontlines and get his hands dirty. Always a willing hand I could call on with no judgment. A welcoming smile and calming spirit I looked forward to working with and being around. You will be missed, and always in our hearts.” –Charles Martin

“Matt was an advocate for everyone. His leadership was extraordinary because it was gentle, and we are all better for it.”  –Lauren Tappel

“Even though you led with your conservative, calm, collective, cool blue energy, I had the pleasure of seeing the funny, personable side of you.  Watching you zoom around doing whatever you could do. We laughed a lot and I really enjoyed hearing it. That big bright smile you loved to hide, I’m going to miss it. I loved some of the hilarious stories you told me, and your warm comforting demeanor you had for all of us to see. You left such an impact on our hearts, rebuilding without you we don’t even know where to start. We’re gonna miss you Matt, and from time to time I’ll hide you a snack.” –Quita Williams

“Matt was a bright light with a contagious laugh that brought a smile to everyone around him. I am thankful for the time I got to know him.” –Katie Heinkel

“Matt’s genuine personality and laugh will truly be missed. He was always easy to talk with and would go over and beyond to help you. No matter how busy he was, he always made time for you even if it was just to tell you he hadn’t forgot about you and would follow up. Fly high Matt, I will always remember you by your beautiful smile.” –Jamie Robinson

 “Matt is the unselfish leader we all deserve. His leadership style maximized my production level because he valued effort over mistakes. Meaning he allowed me and others to fail without fear of persecution. And when you did well, he made sure everyone knew ‘You did it.’ Thank you, Matt.” –Daquarious Branch

“When I think of Matt, I think of his kind soul, his great smile and his infectious laugh. He never made me feel stupid for asking silly questions, and there were lots of those! I will miss the sound of his fast feet moving around the office…he must have walked 50,000 steps in a day! My life is better for having known Matt.” –Molly Lunne

“Matthew and I were hired at the Foodbank just weeks apart from each other. He was my first work friend and quickly became a good friend as well. He did everything to help the people around him. His passion and drive shined so bright. His smile lightened a room. And his ability to figure things out was unparalleled. Matthew will be missed dearly.” –Jordan Komon

“You were always fun to be around, you loved to laugh and tell jokes. I bet you didn’t know it, but you had a very big impact on the people at The Foodbank, and anyone you met along the way. You always made the comment on how many people come and go from The Foodbank, but you went way too soon my friend. Watch over your family and ours, I hope you rest easy!” –Nick Green

“Matt was always on your team — if he was in the room you knew you had somebody to count on. He was the first person you ran to in hot water, and the first suspect when all of the candy was gone from your snack drawer. I can only hope he knew we were all on his team too. The world needs more Matts.” –Caitlyn McIntosh

“I will miss Matt’s smile, his infamous sweet tooth, and his seemingly bottomless well of patience for all of us at The Foodbank. I will never forget the day he said that what motivated him was that he never wanted to let anyone down. I just hope, somehow, that he knows he never did. Not even once.” –Emily Gallion

“Among Matthew’s finest and most admirable qualities was his humbleness — always deflecting attention away from himself — while serving others in the most exemplary fashion.  He rarely spoke of himself.  He really didn’t need to; his actions spoke volumes.  Still, I wish he would have shared more of himself because I think we all would have benefited.” –Katie Ly

“I can’t even begin to count how many times I heard ‘Hey Matt’ on a daily basis. Matt was the lifeline for all of us here at The Foodbank. No matter what you asked him about he always knew the answer, and more often than not he actually knew what you were going to ask about before you said it! I will miss his bright spirit so much. Thank you, Matt, for always having our backs… you will be so incredibly missed by everyone here.” –Lauren Mathile


It’s time to close the book on college hunger

It’s time to close the book on college hunger

Despite that an estimated one-third of college students are food insecure, most are ineligible to receive SNAP benefits

By Emily Gallion, Grant & Metrics Manager/Advocacy Manager, and Caitlyn McIntosh, Intake/Volunteer Support

It’s a familiar joke: “College students live on ramen.” We all recognize the stereotype that college students live on cheap, calorie-rich “junk” foods. However, the reality lurking behind this narrative is much more troubling.

A 2019 survey found that 34 percent of college students were food insecure in the previous 30 days. As with the general population, certain students are more likely to face food insecurity, including students of color, students who are transgender or nonbinary, and students enrolled at two-year institutions.

While many assume that most college students rely on funding from their parents, this has become more and more incorrect. In 2018, the Government Accountability Office found that 71% of college students were “nontraditional,” meaning they are financially independent, working full time, enrolled part-time, have dependents of their own, or did not receive a high school diploma. 

The “traditional” student, one who enrolls in college full-time after completing high school and is dependent on their parents, represents less than one-third of the college population.

We are all aware of the impacts food insecurity has on an individual’s health and well-being. College students who are food insecure also face poorer educational outcomes than their peers. A John Hopkins study found that food insecure students were 43 percent less likely to graduate and 61 percent less likely to get an advanced degree.

“Policies to increase access to higher education need to really help students afford the full cost of higher education, meaning their living expenses as well as tuition rates,” an author of the study said.

Given the extent of food insecurity in this population, as well as the impact on college success, it is clear that hunger is a major barrier for college graduation. While education is supposed to provide equal opportunity, these barriers are disproportionately felt by students from low-income families, students of color, and students who are transgender — magnifying existing inequalities.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) is the nation’s number one defense against hunger. However, college students are generally not eligible to receive SNAP benefits.

There are certain exemptions to this policy: students are eligible if they are enrolled in college less than half-time (as defined by their financial institution), work more than 20 hours per week, are enrolled in a federal or state work-study program, or meet other criteria. For a full list of eligibility requirements, visit the USDA’s guide here.

During the pandemic, the Consolidated Appropriations Act expanded exemptions to students who are eligible to participate in federal or state work study or have an Expected Family Contribution of $0 on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). These exemptions are temporary and will expire 30 days after the federal health emergency designation is lifted.

One bill, the Expanding Access to SNAP (EATS) Act of 2021, seeks to make college students eligible for benefits by counting college attendance towards SNAP work requirements. This bill was introduced in the House of Representatives in March and the Senate in July. An article in The Counter, a nonprofit newsroom that covers the US food system, called the bill’s chances “slim in a divided Congress.”

It is imperative that students have access to enough food to live a healthy, active lifestyle — and focus on their education. To learn more about food insecurity in college students, check out Feeding America’s research on the subject.