GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Nassau Community College now has a fully operational food pantry for students who need it.

As TV 10/55’s Richard Rose reported, it’s the first of its kind for the state’s largest community college campus.

Hip-hop and hula hoops highlighted a celebration on Thursday for students at the community college.

And free food, just donated by Long Island’s largest food banks, was on the menu for anyone looking for a hot dog, a drink of water, or a snack.

It was all part of the grand opening for a new campus-based pantry, meant to address a serious problem.

“Seventeen percent of all the people we’re supporting each year are college students,” said Randi Shubin Dresner, with Island Harvest Food Bank.

That 17 percent translates to more than 50,000 students on Long Island, who sometimes have to turn to food pantries when choosing between paying the rent and eating.

And the problem is nationwide. According to the 2014 Hunger in America Report, 4.5 million adults who face hunger are students. Nearly one-third report they’ve had to choose between paying for food and covering educational expenses, Rose reported.

Sophomore Rajat Jindal related.

“Maybe, it’s the fact that I have been in this situation when I was in high school, when my family just couldn’t afford certain things,” Jindal said.

Jindal and other student volunteers will staff what’s called The Nest, located across from the student center.

The Nest is now open and already doing business in the busy 20,000 student campus.

“We have a lot of people coming in already, so we expect a few thousand at least,” said pantry volunteer Anthony Ogata.

The campus food bank will be open three days a week for struggling students. Volunteers are already busy re-stocking shelves with essentials for any student facing a food emergency.

“People can come in, almost as if they’re going to a store, pick what they want and go home with some food,” said Ogata.

Allowing students to worry about their studies rather than where they’ll get their next meal.

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