New Survey Reveals Students Come to School Hungry

ASG’s food pantry will be grocery-style, where students can choose items to take home for free/ Lesly Guzman/ el Don

Sometimes, Thomas Huggins runs out of food for his family. But the 33-year-old father of two takes classes at Santiago Canyon College, so to fill in the gaps, he uses the Hawks Nest, the college’s twice-monthly food pantry.

“As someone who has had to use a food pantry before, I can tell you that when you’re hungry, pride goes out the window,” Huggins, who also attends Santa Ana College, said. “I think that [having a pantry] is important for somebody that’s spending a lot of time in an environment like a college to progress.”

Food insecurity is a significant issue at SAC. More than half of all students reported having to choose between buying food and purchasing other resources. About 65% said they have experienced an inadequate food supply more than once this semester. 13% went without eating more than five times per term. 

The results come from a survey distributed in September by the Research Department in collaboration with Associated Student Government. It was designed to assess the need for a food pantry at SAC.

65% of students had inadequate food supply at least once this semester. 85% of students feel that a food pantry is needed at SAC. 88% of students would frequently or occasionally use an on-campus pantry, according to the SAC Research Department/ Lesly Guzman/ el Don

The state average for food insecurity is 50%, according to the survey by #RealCollege. SAC is above that average.

Based on the results, ASG is planning to open a space to distribute free groceries in the spring.

“People should know that it’s okay [to need free food],” criminal justice major Stephanie Salgado said. “Students will take advantage of [a food pantry], especially if it’s here on campus.”

The survey also showed that 83% of survey respondents reported knowing someone who has lacked adequate food supply. Psychology major Giselle Cervantes was not surprised. She said that students going hungry is all too common.

“It’s very normalized among college students,” she said. 

Low-income students can sign up for CalFresh, a public benefits program for food. The application doesn’t require the individual to submit their parent’s tax return, and applying won’t affect financial aid. Local chain restaurants like Subway and Pizza Hut allow CalFresh recipients to purchase hot meals using their benefits.

Two in five students are eligible for CalFresh, according to Vice President of Student Services Vaniethia Hubbard.

“The college is working with several nonprofit organizations to identify comprehensive support services for our students,” Hubbard said.

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