IVC establishes food pantry for homeless students this fall

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IMPERIAL – Imperial Valley College will become a food distribution center when a campus food pantry opens during the Fall 2017 session in building 600, according to a news release from the college.

The pantry, in conjunction with the Imperial Valley Food Bank, will house a federal food assistance program located in the former mailroom next to the faculty lounge.

“We decided to take a hybrid approach with immediate, short-term, and long-term solutions,” said Student Equity Coordinator Bianca Bisi in the release.

According to the release, boxes of groceries will be available as a short-term solution, but some students will not have the means to take groceries home or may not have a place to store or prepare them. The more immediate solution for those students would be “grab-and-go packs,” small meals that can be eaten on campus, organizers said.

“We’re taking a community wellness approach. We know that if students are hungry, they’re least likely to be successful and attendance will be harder,” Bisi said in the release. “Then we thought, ‘Why not utilize CalFresh outreach resources?’”

“Legislation recently changed and, instead of having to work a minimum of 20 hours to qualify, they instead could be enrolled in community college,” Bisi explained. “Now we’ll have access to a CalFresh eligibility screener who would be able to screen the students and assist them with what they need.”

Student Equity is already providing shower kits for students in response to recent state legislation, Assembly Bill 1995, which mandates that California community colleges provide access to showers to homeless students.

Student Equity Team members, under the leadership of Dr. Martha Garcia, vice president of Student Services, began creating shower kits that include towels and hygiene supplies. Word got around campus and soon students and other departments responded with assistance by donating, the release said.

Those wishing to donate money to this cause can do so through the IVC Foundation, which is housed in the IVC Administration Building. For information on how to donate, call the Foundation office at 760-355-6113.

The news release lists the following items that are needed: reusable cloth grocery bags; travel-size shampoo, conditioner, body wash, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, bath towels; granola bars, individually wrapped trail mix, protein bars, non-perishable protein shakes, or fruit snacks.

*An updated list will be made available once the campus pantry is in full operation during Fall 2017.