Riverland Student Running For President Of State Group

April 09, 2019 06:58 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- An Austin student is hoping to become president of a group that represents college students across Minnesota, and he's focusing on an issue that's being felt in places you might not think.

"Some students have to miss class because their stomachs are empty," Oballa Oballa said. “I myself, I am hungry and I'm going to college."


Riverland Community College student Oballa Oballa is running for the top spot of LeadMN, which represents 180-thousand two-year college students around the state. His platform is "hunger" on campus.

"The choice between food or a textbook is always to buy a textbook and then you have to go to class hungry because you don't want to miss that class," Oballa Oballa said.

It happens more often than you might think. Estimates show that between 25 and 40 percent of students on campus will at some point in their academic career experience food insecurity, not knowing where their next meal is coming from.

As president of the student senate at Riverland community college, Oballa Oballa helped establish a food pantry on campus.

"We have around 400 different students visiting the food pantry every month," he explained.

"I use three or four times a week," Riverland student Prutha Patel told ABC 6 News.

"I would say I use it three or four times a week," student Olivier Saye agreed.

"I cannot focus at my instructors,” Prutha Patel explained. “I keep thinking what I will eat after I will get done with this class.”

“I was still living at the dorms and we still didn't have a car and couldn't go to buy groceries," Olivier Saye said.

They're the kind of real-life stories that are driving Oballa Oballa's campaign for the presidency of LeadMN.

"My main focus is to make sure every community college has a food pantry," he said.

The next president of LeadMN will be elected Saturday during a statewide meeting of student leaders.


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