Food and dining services stopped on the Nassau Community College campus on April 16. NewsdayTV's Steve Langford reports.  Credit: Anthony Florio

Nassau Community College students Monday protested the sudden closure of campus food and dining services, saying the move increases food insecurity and adds an obstacle to completing their education.

On the campus plaza, a few dozen students and faculty said the reduction will hit hard those who commute to the college and can’t easily access off-campus options throughout the school day.

“Students work, they come here, they do their jobs as a student, and they need to have something to sustain them throughout the day,” said sophomore Godlee Sainvilus, 20. “This is completely unacceptable.”

The rally comes on the heels of Nassau Community College saying this month that a Starbucks on the campus, along with the food and dining services, would shutter. Their replacement, college officials said, would include vending machines.

With just about a few weeks to the end of the semester, the college’s food service provider — Compass Group — submitted a termination letter, according to an agenda item for the March 12 meeting of the college's finance committee. Compass said it was no longer financially possible to provide the food services under their agreement, the document said.

Compass wanted roughly $320,000 a year for seven years — an amount that was too high, college officials had said. Compass Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

“Nassau Community College is committed to the students and the faculty and is doing everything possible to provide food services for the population that we serve,” Jerry Kornbluth, NCC vice president for community and governmental relations, said Monday in an interview.

The college is in talks with food truck vendors and has requests for proposals from other food services for the fall semester, according to letters sent Monday to faculty and students. The letter also said other services for students in need includes a food pantry, some food options in a bookstore and microwaves in certain locations.

“We’re not going to let anybody starve on this campus,” Kornbluth said.

But that has not done enough to quash concerns of some students and staff amid the school's deficit of more than a million dollars and the faculty’s recent approval of a no-confidence vote of NCC leadership.

Enrollment at the college has dipped in recent years, moving from roughly 24,000 students in 2011 to around 11,000 currently.

“We’re all very outraged by the fact that the dining services are closed,” student Kaldwin Lerandy Ladislas said in an interview after the protest.

The 19-year-old, who is transferring to Stony Brook University next semester, later said, “It feels like we are being dismissed again.”

Suzanne Kaebnick, professor in the English department and secretary of the faculty union, said, “It’s time to secure Nassau Community College and its students.” 

“Stock the cafeteria and feed the students hot, delicious, nutritious and affordable food,” she told onlookers. 

With Joie Tyrrell

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