■ Chronicle News Service
It took less than 30 minutes to distribute more than 80 bags of groceries during Mt. San Jacinto College’s first Pop-up Food Pantry event, held on Nov. 21.
MSJC students and employees handed out groceries and informational resources to help struggling families during the 2017 holiday season.
“Current research shows that one of five students sit in their classrooms hungry and we are hoping to be part of the initiative to lessen the gap of food insecurity by offering food distribution at least once a month or more to help our MSJC students,” said Dolores Smith, dean of student services.
MSJC students and Banning residents Lizette and Caesar Ortiz showed up to the event with their two children, and went home with a few bags of groceries.
“It’s definitely going to help,” said Caesar Ortiz.
Smith understands the complexity of feeding populations and is part of the MSJC “Food for Thought” task force, which is made up of several MSJC departments and community partners including Smith; Paula Moua, administrative associate III; Maya Cardenas, director of student life and development; Pamela Wright, director of student equity; and Lisa Campbell, CalWorks director.
The pop-up food pantry event helps, says Smith, but the task force is interested in long-term solutions. Smith said that the task force, pursuant to Senate Bill 85, Section 66027.8 (c), along with support from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, will help tackle food security issues on community college campuses.
SB 85 provides for a meal plan program and food pantry at community colleges. Campuses that conform and provide services as a “hunger free campus” are eligible for additional funding. Smith believes this initiative, along with community partnerships, will help establish permanent food pantries on MSJC campuses.
MSJC plans to have a pop-up food pantry at the Menifee Valley Campus and San Jacinto Campus in December, 2017.
For more information email Paula Moua at firstname.lastname@example.org.