With more than 10.5 million students attending community colleges across the U.S., more than half describe themselves as having food insecurities, according to a recent University of Wisconsin study.
In an effort to prevent this hunger and promote healthy eating, Hancock College has partnered with the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County to hand out free food to all students every first Tuesday and Thursday of the month.
“Food Share Because We Care,” led by student ambassadors, Associated Student Body Government members and college staff, was held for the second time during the first week of February and yielded a significant — and diverse — turnout.
“It’s a form of support that’s important to the students,” said student ambassador Daniel Hernandez. “Not all students are able to afford food, and struggle, so this is a good resource to help them get through the semester.”
Students stocked up on fruits, vegetables and nonperishable goods. Activities coordinator Stephanie Robb said it is crucial to select foods fit for students in a wide variety of situations, including those who may not have the tools necessary to cook.
“They already have so much to worry about; we don’t want them to have to worry about food, too,” she said, pointing to the lines of cans and cereal boxes being passed out.
Nutrition also plays a large role, and staff pay particular attention to items’ labels before choosing what to distribute. Food science instructor Christine Bisson has created recipe handouts to illustrate how the ingredients provided can be used to make nourishing, tasty meals.
Among the positive feedback following the event, many students commented on how difficult it is to be fully engaged in their studies without food-provided energy, and commended the college for their contributions.
“A lot of students need proper nutrition to stay on top of their studies, and not all of them can easily acquire it,” said auto body student Cristian Rodriguez. “If your body isn’t physically ready to learn, what’s the point of even going to school?”