Meeting Students’ Basic Needs a Focus During Pandemic
November 23, 2020 |
When it comes to addressing the hunger and housing challenges students are grappling with during the COVID-19 pandemic, the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) is pulling out all the stops.
More than 5,200 students at San Diego City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges and San Diego Continuing Education responded to the Hope Center #RealCollege survey in 2019, with 54% saying they were facing housing insecurities, 19% saying they were homeless, and 42% saying they were dealing with food insecurity. The pandemic, by all accounts, has only exacerbated the situation, prompting the SDCCD to become even more innovative in addressing the challenges.
Among the initiatives:
- As the pandemic was beginning to spiral out of control, San Diego City College secured a $1.8 million, College Homeless and Housing Insecure Pilot Program grant to help homeless and housing-insecure students find a place to live. City College also hosts Hunger Action and College Resource days where students can access food and supplies through drive-by distributions on campus. In addition, City Colleges delivers food and book vouchers to students in need via email. The public can contribute with donations through the San Diego City College Foundation.
- Mesa College has instituted a Drive-Thru Mobile Market and Drive-Thru Farmers Market on the first Monday and third Thursday of each month respectively to ensure students in need are not going hungry and are receiving fresh produce in a safe, expedient manner. Mesa also offers free hot lunches prepared by its Culinary Art Program to students in need. In addition, donations from Associated Students, the San Diego Mesa Foundation, and others allowed the Mesa College Stand to distribute $150 to 420 students. The Stand, meanwhile, was able to provide 115 students $25 food vouchers for the purchase of a family meal from local restaurant and campus partner California Burrito. The public is invited to donate to the Mesa College Student COVID-19 Emergency Fund through the San Diego Mesa College Foundation.
- Miramar College has partnered with Feeding San Diego’s Retail Rescue program to collect fresh, high-quality produce that is bagged and distributed to food-insecure students during weekly campus drive-thrus. It also has distributed more than 200 food cards totaling $30,000 to food-insecure students through a partnership with the Miramar College Foundation while also establishing a new partnership with Hugs and Bags that distributed hot meals on a weekly basis during June, July and August. Hugs and Bags worked with World Central Kitchen to cook up 2,400 meals for 200 families during the summer months. Donations to the San Diego Miramar College COVID-19 Emergency Student Relief Fund can be made through the Miramar College Foundation.
- Continuing Education is partnering with the San Diego Food Bank and San Diego Rescue Mission to provide additional meals and groceries for its successful SDCEats! Marketplace and Mini-Marts and is partnering with the Food Bank to coordinate CalFresh sign-up days and a monthly Farm to Family Fair free farmers market and health and resource fair. In addition, Continuing Education provides students up to $600 for a variety of needs ranging from food and clothing to housing assistance and car repairs, while its Rising to Success Centers have provided more than 600 students with textbooks and other educational resources. Donations can be made through the San Diego Continuing Education Foundation.
“Between the CARES Act funding, which helped pay the rent, and a book grant, Miramar has been very supportive and very helpful,” said Miramar College student Ella Buchanan, an Honors Program student attending college through the San Diego Promise who was out of work for four months during the pandemic. “But it’s been tough. It’s been a challenge.”