Campus Compact Fellow

When Anna Page was named a Kansas Campus Compact faculty fellow, she set two goals for herself: strengthen community ties for service learning and combat hunger in whatever concrete ways she could.

Page, assistant professor of dietary management at Johnson County Community College, was selected for the fellowship along with two other professors in Kansas. They each received $6,000 to support their efforts to integrate civic engagement and service learning into their teaching and research.

The three fellows will meet sporadically during the year-long term to share strategies and plan projects that one day might be transferred to other institutions in the state.

In the beginning

Page said she was reluctant to enter service learning at first. When she began work at JCCC an adjunct instructor, she didn’t even know what service learning was.

Finally, after being bombarded by earnest emails asking for her support, she relented.

“I finally said, ‘Okay, yes, I’ll do service learning.’”

Despite the extra time and effort, she said she found service learning extremely rewarding.

“All those years of being an adjunct, that’s what I enjoyed the most. The best ones were where the students found their own projects and set them up themselves,” she said.

Community involvement

Priority one of Page’s fellowship was to address the community component of service learning and how to improve it.

“Oftentimes we focus on the faculty members, what they’re doing, and the students, what they’re getting out of it, but we forget about the community and what they’re getting out of it,” she said.

Students who study to become dieticians might end up working in hospitals or managed-care facilities, but it’s difficult to get students in those doors because of rules regarding patient confidentiality and other various regulations, Page said.

So, Page’s students have given presentations in schools and senior centers, and she’s looking for more opportunities to spread the philosophy of healthy eating to those who need it most.

A recent partnership with Harvesters Food Pantry gave class participants a bag of free groceries each week while one of Page’s students taught them about nutrition.

Page said she hopes to continue the program, called Project Strength, next fall with even more participants. Food and supplies come from a federal grant for nutrition education.

Battling hunger

Page also volunteered to help with the Stop Hunger Now event in 2013 that funded, packaged and sent meals for hungry people overseas and collected food and funds for JCCC’s food pantry.

She’s also is looking for ways to help the on-campus pantry, which managed by the Model United Nations team.

Sometimes education is the key to effectively using what the pantry offers, she said.

“For example, there are bags of pinto beans up there (in the pantry), but they aren’t exactly flying off the shelves. People just don’t know what to do with them,” she said.

She had one of her classes prepare information sheets on how to prepare the bagged beans and recipes on how to use them.

“They’re an excellent source of fiber and protein. They’re fairly low in fat, and they’re cheap,” she said.

Her quest to combat hunger continues.

“The food pantries are an obvious choice, but other opportunities exist. After-school programs, community classes – we just have to find them,” she said.