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College Campuses Are Closed, but Students Need Food

College Campuses Are Closed, but Students Need Food

CSULA food distributionWe talk a lot about the complications of feeding hundreds of thousands of K-12 school children who are learning remotely. Hunger on college campuses is also a significant issue in LA County. Before the pandemic, the Los Angeles Community College District reported that, of its 260,000 students, 62.7% experienced food insecurity and 38.3% experienced “Very Low Food Security,” meaning “that there were multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.” The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic disruption have exacerbated this problem.

Before March of this year, the Food Bank supported on-campus food pantries, typically managed by students, and operated our Mobile Food Pantry at both two and four-year colleges across the county. With most colleges transitioning to a remote learning model, and with the demand for food growing, we have adjusted our food distribution to keep nutritious food available for college students, staff and neighbors.

CSULA Food DistributionIn late August, we hosted a large drive-through food distribution at Cerritos Community College that is indicative of how we have adapted to the new reality. While there, we met many clients and want to share a couple of their stories:

Carol and Eugene are siblings. Carol is a full-time student at Cerritos studying communication. Since the pandemic began, they have come to several Food Bank distributions at the college. Before the crisis, they had never come to a distribution, but Eugene was laid off in March and his unemployment payments have decreased significantly. And their Mom lost her job as a waitress. The food they get from the Food Bank saves them hundreds of dollars, and they routinely pick up food for a couple of their senior citizen neighbors who have a tough time getting out of the house. They wanted to share this message to the Food Bank’s donors — “Thank you so much. Your help makes things so much easier for our family. We’re so appreciative and grateful for you.”

Christiana is a full-time student at Cerritos and took advantage of the downtime in line to study for her political science class. Her husband is the sole earner for a household of six, and he lost his job at the onset of the pandemic. She visited the food pantry several times before the crisis and has been to a couple of the Grab-and-Go distributions since the distribution model was changed. The food she receives has been invaluable to her family’s well-being. She marvels at the efficiency of the operation. She told us, “We are so grateful for all the resources you provide us here.”

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