Campus groups working to end student hunger

Cristo de Guzman

The purple food drop bins were nearly empty at the “Scare Away Hunger” drive held at the Gorton Quad on October 29th.

“Turnout is not good,” said CalWORKs’ administrator Cherie Bromley-Taylor. “We expected it to be overwhelmed.”

“Scare Away Hunger” served as the open house for the Food Pantry, the first in City College’s two-tier campaign to combat student hunger.

Bromley-Taylor stressed that the Food Pantry is a ‘band-aid solution’ to the issue of student hunger on campus. Its target is students who forgot to a pack lunch, have no access to a microwave, or have no pocket change for a meal.

The student will be able to go to a counselor or designated faculty, and ask for a free lunch. A ticket will be issued that can be redeemed at one of the pickup locations on campus.

Bernice Lorenzo, program coordinator of CalWORKs, said it has taken the Food Pantry a year and a half from concept to fruition.
“We had a meeting at CalWORKs,” she said. “Then we had a subcommittee to chair the idea.”

“With the college president’s blessing, the Food Pantry was born,” said Bromley-Taylor, who took the free meal concept to the powers that be.

CalWORKs, New Horizons Program and BEAT Club are some of the campus organizations currently involved with the Food Pantry. SIFE, which donated bottled water for “Scare Away Hunger,” will join soon.

“Our plan is to coordinate all clubs on campus,” said Bromley-Taylor. “The life of Food Pantry depends on how much inventory we have.”

On the table for “Scare Away Hunger” sat zip-locked bags neatly labeled with dates in Sharpie ink. Because of contamination liability, the Food Pantry only accepts pre-packaged non-perishables.

The zip-locked lunch bags will include containers of diced fruit, orange juice, pudding or jello, as well as microwaveables of pasta and soup, among other essentials.

The founders of Food Pantry realized that campus hunger was a serious issue when they encountered students who were starving.

“I have students who come in and say ‘I’m hungry,'” said Mary Jane Kruse, program director of New Horizons.

Kruse, Bromley-Taylor and Lorenzo all acknowledged that hunger has a stigma.

Lorenzo recalled a food drive a few years back that had failed because homeless people from the street were lining up and taking packages meant for City students.

But the founders said that by running student identification cards through the system, the program should be secure.

“If the name of a student appears too often in a roster, they will be turned away,” said Bromley-Taylor. “Food Pantry is for emergency use only.”

After the Food Pantry is established, the second tier of the two-phase plan will be a food bank.

“We hope to have a fully functioning food bank by the end of this semester,” said Larissa Dorman, advisor for BEAT Club. “We made a deal with seven local restaurants who’ll donate day-old perishables.”