Ellen Webster, who used to run track for City College, noticed her fellow athletes going hungry.
“Many students just don’t have food or the money to buy food,” she said.
That led her to contact the non-profit organization So Others May Eat, which now pairs with City’s small business entrepreneurship class to distribute food to students once a month on campus.
The food is available to all, regardless of financial status. Students line up, sign-in and are allowed to take home one paper bag’s worth of food of their choice. They can select from tables topped with food ranging from canned goods to coffee to produce. More than 150 students picked up an estimated 4,000 pounds of food just in one day in April.
“If they show up and are hungry, then there are no questions asked,” said Tresha Souza, the founder and director of So Others May Eat.
The monthly food distribution began at City College in April of 2015 when the Business Technology Department was able to connect with Souza.
“We started this once we noticed there were a lot of homeless students on campus. We also run the daily food pantry where food is available to students, but that just wasn’t enough,” said Danny Pereda, a Business Management student.
The small business entrepreneurship class (BUSE 245) is an internship class where students work in various student-run companies. These include the Emergency Food Pantry located in BT211, Fantastique, a used clothing store, located in BT212, and the Business Resource Center, located in BT313.
“I think it’s beneficial to students, especially to those with low-incomes who don’t have the funds to purchase food. I’ve donated to the pantry myself and to eat from the pantry you just have to be a student,” said student Shirin Wilson.
While there is rarely any food left over from the distribution, it’s donated to the Boys & Girls Club.
Souza started So Others May Eat in 2007, funded by contributions. On average, volunteers drive 180 miles per day to pick up donated food from across San Diego County. They also offer free dinners available to the public every Tuesday in La Jolla and Ocean Beach where attendance ranges from 150 to 200 people for each one.
Their newest project includes the purchase of an ambulance they intend to use to drive around giving free haircuts to those who want them.
“A person’s (demeanor) immediately changes after they receive a haircut, they perk up and it gives confidence,” said Souza.
Students may volunteer to help with the campus distribution or assisting the non-profit with their distributions across the city.
“Some 90 percent of people want to help, they just don’t know how to. Our organization let’s them come in and get their feet wet,” said Souza. “We appreciate our volunteers and welcome them to join us.”
For information on the next monthly distribution or if interested in volunteering, students may contact the Business Technology Department or So Others May Eat, at (858) 900-1275 or soothersmayeatinc.org. The Emergency Food Pantry, located in BT211A, is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday.