College students have long lived off of Top Ramen and Easy Mac. And while it may seem like a rite of passage, in reality some students have to make decision between their food needs and all the other costs that are associated with college.

It makes it hard to be successful, and that's something Dakota County Technical College and the Eagan Resource Center want to address. On June 6, the Eagan Resource Center's Mobile Pantry started offering free food support to DCTC students weekly.

DCTC Student Life director Nicole Meulemans said the program will make sure students have access to food if they have a need. Meulemans estimated the program will serve 20 students and their families each week. In addition to food the Eagan Resource Center provides educational resources to help students with situations that they may be facing.

"There's always a need with college students," said Meulemans.

The Mobile Pantry is available to any DCTC student who identifies themselves as in need of food support. Meulemans said the support is independent of any other financial support received at the school and will not impact eligibility to other programs. The Eagan Resource Center also offers the service to students at Inver Hills Community College.

Each month students can receive about 2 1/2 weeks worth of food for themselves and their dependents. The Mobile Pantry is a modified mini bus stocked with food. According to the Eagan Resource Center 70 percent of the food offered is fresh and perishable including vegetables, fruits, milk, eggs and meats. The program is grant supported.

Meulemans said the program focuses on the idea that students need healthful, nutritious foods in order to do their best in class. By providing for a student's basic needs, Meulemans said they can ensure they are getting the support they need to focus on their studies.

Students must complete an intake process before receiving food. Meulemans said DCTC staff has been trained to conduct the intakes. There are no income requirements or residency restrictions. The program is free to all students.

"This is not tied to anything. Everyone goes through a struggle here and there. We just want to help eliminate hunger," said Meulemans.

The Mobile Pantry will be in front of DCTC on Thursdays from noon to 3 p.m. Monthly appointments must be arranged in advance. Students can email mobile.pantry@ or visit the DCTC Learning Center, Student Life or their academic advisor.