City Food Pantry moves house


Bridgette Babers, a student involved in the Small Business Entrepreneur Program, restocks food in the pantry. Photo credit: Lydia Grijalva

Lydia Grijalva

As the responsibility of funding higher education continues to shift from state and federal government to the individual students, on campus food pantries are becoming increasingly common. More students report experiencing extreme hunger during class time. According to studies and how-to guides published by campuses from Oregon to California, and all the way up to Canada, on campus food pantries are forming to tackle student hunger on campus. These publications show that while there were less than 100 pantries reported on college campuses as of two years ago, that number is rapidly growing.

City Food Pantry, the campus food pantry, opened Sept. 2 in the Business Technology building.

The pantry is located on the second floor of the BT building. It aims to provide students with an on-the-go meal between classes. The meal is completely free and is available to each student once per week.

“We only set that limit because we were running out of food,” explained Marie Disnew, the administrative assistant and project adviser for City College’s Small Business Entrepreneur Program, formerly known as Enactus.

“But if a student came in hungry, we wouldn’t turn them away,” added Lisa Natidad, a student involved in the pantry program.

The current student director at the pantry is Cheré Smith. Smith has a vision of a pantry with “more healthy choices” for students.

While visiting City Food Pantry, a student can also receive help applying to the Cal Fresh Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps.

“Most students don’t even know they qualify,” Smith explained. “ … to get Food Stamps you have to be a full-time student who is working 20 hours a week.”

As student food need grows, the pantry encourages students to utilize their services. Desnew, who has been working with the college population for 10 years, thinks that “the social structure has changed.”

“For example, Food Stamps,” Desnew explained. “When they tightened up, a lot of people were not eligible.”

“Students used to be eligible,” Natidad added.

“Go in with no job and no school enrollment, you qualify,” Desnew continued. “It’s like they’re punishing you for being a student.”

City Food Pantry also offers lists of hot meals and ongoing help for students who are facing severe food insecurity or homelessness.

“We see a lot of homeless students,” Natidad said. “We’re not sure if it’s because it’s more common or if it’s because we’re finally talking about it.”

Disnew and the City Food Pantry team know that the pantry will be more successful if there is more student involvement.

“Last year, the sports teams made a competition out of it getting the most donations in a food drive. Whoever donated the most got a gift card, I think,” Disnew said.

The City Food Pantry is located in BC 112 and will be open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.