Lake Washington Institute of Technology Removes Barriers to Education by Providing Services to Students Experiencing Food and Housing Insecurities


Leslie ShattuckExecutive Director/Executive Communications Officer(425) 739-8236

Kirkland, Wash. – Last Fall, Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech) participated in #RealCollege Survey, a survey sponsored by The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice at Temple University; to assess basic needs among college students. The survey was emailed to approximately 3,500 LWTech students.

Of those who responded, 41 percent experienced food insecurities, which the National #RealCollege Survey, 2019 defined as, “Limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food, or the ability to acquire such food in a socially acceptable manner.” 

In the last 30 days, 51percent experienced housing insecurity, which the National #RealCollegeSurvey defined as a, “Broad set of challenges such as the inability to pay rent or utilities, or the needs to move frequently.” 24 percent experienced homelessness in the previous year, and 67% of students experienced at least one of these forms of basic needs insecurity in the past year.

LWTech faculty and staff were not surprised by the results because they work with students every day who experience food and housing insecurities. “The cost to live and work on the eastside continues to rise. While we are seeing historically low unemployment rates, the survey results indicate the wages people are earning aren’t sufficient enough to sustain their food and housing costs,” comments Dr. Amy Morrison, president of LWTech. “It is our responsibility to remove as many barriers to education as possible, so our students are able to succeed, and thrive.”

There are five key areas where faculty and staff work to combat food and housing insecurities:

  1. With the help of generous donors through the LWTech Foundation, and the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges, LWTech is able to support students with a robust Student Emergency Grant, which can be used for one-time, unexpected expenses like a medical bill or car repairs. College data indicate students who receive emergency grants are more likely to remain enrolled and graduate.
  2. LWTech’s Associated Student Government established a campus food pantry called Daily Eating Needs (DEN). The DEN is open and available to all students, and provides food while they are on-campus. The DEN continues to be stocked thanks to generous donors externally, throughout the college, the Kirkland community, and organizations like Hopelink.
  3. LWTech employs a Workforce Development Specialist who tasked with connecting students to local community resources that support student housing and food needs. One of the ways they do this is by coordinating a quarterly community resource fair on campus which brings together community based organizations and educational resources. 
  4. LWTech is committed to serving income eligible students with additional funding and support through state and federal programs, including students that receive Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) and Basic Food Assistance.
  5. The college community formed a Campus Assessment, Response, and Evaluation (CARE) team. This group meets weekly to discuss students who may need additional support, including those with housing and food insecurities.

“Students who worry about where they will sleep or how to get their next meal have less time and energy to study,” said Dr. Ruby Hayden, vice president of Student Services at LWTech. “If we can help connect them to community resources, provide funding to cover an emergency, or offer a quick meal between classes, then we make it easier for them to focus their efforts on becoming well qualified nurses, auto technicians, or dozens of other types of professionals serving our community after graduation.”

If you are interested in learning how you can help students through the LWTech Student Emergency Grant, visit the LWTech Foundation.

About Lake Washington Institute of Technology

Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech) was founded in 1949, and is the only public institute of technology in the state of Washington. LWTech offers 11 applied bachelor's degrees, 41 associate degrees, and 83 professional certificates in 41 areas of study, including STEM-focused programs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.