May 23, 2018
The phrase “starving college student” is often thrown around with humor in American pop culture and conjures images of cheap meal staples that fuel students through their first years of living on their own, such as ramen, pizza, and cereal. The reality, however, of hunger among college students is much more serious.
In order to help students meet basic needs to succeed in school, SDCC operates a food pantry in room 211A in the Business Technology building.
According to Hunger and Homelessness in College, a study published in April by researchers at Temple University and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, 36 percent of students attending four-year universities across the country are facing food insecurity. Among community college students that rate climbs to 42 percent.
Food insecurity is defined in this study as “the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or the ability to acquire such foods in a socially acceptable manner.” Students facing food insecurity have been forced to skip meals and attend class or work while experiencing the negative psychological effects of hunger, including fatigue, lack of focus, headaches and pains, and other detrimental side effects. President of San Diego City College, Dr. Ricky Shabazz, said, “It seems easy…to feed students right, but it’s more than that. As students were surveyed from professors, they notice hunger was the top of the list that impacted them to finish the semester strong.”
Once per day, students may visit the pantry and take one snack item, one entree item, plus two extra items such as rice, pasta or canned vegetables to prepare at home. To avoid potential negative stigmas attached to using this resource, the food pantry maintains student anonymity. Students are required to show a student identification card, but they do not have to apply or give any personal information to access the pantry. The pantry also cannot share any information about students that use it.
City College’s food pantry operates under the business department and offers students a unique, hands-on learning opportunity through internships. Interns receive experience in business operations and earn academic credits towards business certificate and associate’s degree programs, all while helping other students in need. Jose P. Everett, a student-intern at City College’s food pantry, said the pantry is helping him prepare to own his own business, while getting to know the needs of the campus. Everett said, “The pantry supports enrolled students suffering from food insecurity … I see regulars a lot.”
The pantry collects supplies through donations, but is supported mostly by district funding. In March, San Diego Community College District was awarded $100,000 to fund food pantries at each campus, as part of an allocation of $2.5 million of the California Community College System’s budget to fight student hunger on over 60 campuses statewide. City College will recieve $33,000 of that funding.
Jack Beresford, SDCCD Director of Communications and Public Relations said, “For many students, food insecurity is a daily challenge. The additional funding we’ve secured will go directly towards purchasing food that will be distributed at our pantries at City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges.” He added, “The District is deeply committed to its students, and that commitment frequently goes beyond the classroom to provide whatever support is needed.”