California Teachers Association

January / February 2017

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In December, the California Faculty Association chapter at Stanislaus State University made a $35,000 donation to keep a food pantry open for students. anks to work by faculty and staff, students at Humboldt State University can sign up for CalFresh, shop for fresh produce, and obtain a hot bowl of soup for free — all on campus. Faculty and staff on the equity committee at Taft College used state student equity funds to hire student workers for a new food and cloth- ing resource center on campus. An effort at College of the Sequoias supported by faculty, staff and students resulted in a robust on-campus program featuring snack stations, a farmers' market and a food pantry, all free for students. W ith the rising number of "food insecure" college stu- dents, faculty in California's community colleges and CSU campuses are becoming more involved in caring for their students' basic needs. "It boils down to the fact that we're teachers and we care about our students and their ability to learn," says Steven Filling, profes- sor of accounting and president of the CSU Stanislaus chapter of the California Faculty Association (CFA). "It's an urgent need, and this is our community stepping up to participate in addressing the challenges our students face." A study, "Serving Displaced and Food Insecure Students in the CSU," commissioned by the CSU Chancellor's Office and issued in January 2016, reports survey data estimating that 21 percent of students are food insecure — though many faculty say that figure is as high as 50 percent in their areas. (e survey also estimates that 8.7 percent of students are homeless.) A 2015 sur vey of 4,000 students at 10 colleges nationwide suggests that more than half of all com- munity college students struggle with food insecurity. While there are no hard figures on hunger's impact on student matriculation, health experts point out that it not only affects a student's ability to concentrate in class, but often forces them to make decisions about completing their degrees. "When faced with the real threat of hunger or home- lessness, their focus is survival before success," says Luke Wood, co-director of the Community College Equity Assess- ment Lab (CCEAL) at San Diego State University, which issued a report, "Struggling to Survive — Striving to Succeed: Food and Housing Insecurities in the Community College," in December. The issue goes way beyond the starving student stereotype. Although previous generations relied on ramen or boxed mac and cheese to make it through college, many of today's students are older, first-generation, lower-income students of color who are pursuing their degrees while supporting families, working one or two jobs, and paying down loans. Destigmatizing the problem ere is also concern on campus that things may get worse under President Donald Trump's administration, which may cut the fed- eral Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known in California as CalFresh. "Our students have very complicated lives," says Filling's colleague Ann Strahm, associate professor of sociology at CSU Stanislaus. "Over 60 percent of them are on Pell Grants, which means students are poor." Strahm discovered that first-generation students are not always likely to come forward to get help, even when she notices they seem shaky, clammy and dis- tracted. She finds ways to bring leftovers from faculty lunches to her classroom, or she may "invite" a stu- dent to join her in eating granola bars, which she keeps stocked in her desk. Faculty and staff at MiraCosta College in San Diego County have responded to the hunger crisis on campus through a What Is Food Insecurity? Food insecurity is defined by the U.S. Depart- ment of Agriculture as a "state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of afford- able, nutritious food." Estimates on just how many college students are food insecure vary depending on the loca- tion of the college and the socio-economic level of the students. A CSU study, "Serving Displaced and Food Insecure Students in the CSU," reports survey data estimating 21 percent of students are food insecure. The survey asked students to respond to statements such as "I worry whether my food will run out before I get money to buy more" and "I am often hungry but don't eat because I can't ford enough food." Other recent surveys report upward of 50 percent of college students (nationwide and at the undergraduate level at UC campuses) expe- rience food insecurity. In December, the California Faculty Association chapter at Stanislaus State University made a $35,000 donation to keep a food pantry open for students. anks to work by faculty and staff, students at Humboldt State University can sign up for CalFresh, shop for fresh produce, and obtain a hot bowl of soup for free — all on campus. Faculty and staff on the equity committee at Taft College used state student equity funds to hire student workers for a new food and cloth ing resource center on campus. An effort at College of the Sequoias supported by faculty, staff and students resulted in a robust on-campus program featuring snack stations, a farmers' market and a food pantry, all free for students. W "It boils down to the fact that we're teachers and we care about our students and their ability to learn," says Steven Filling, profes sor of accounting and president of the CSU Stanislaus chapter of the California Faculty Association (CFA). "It's an urgent need, and this is our community stepping up to participate in addressing the challenges our students face." A study, "Serving Displaced and Food Insecure Students in the CSU," commissioned by the CSU Chancellor's Office and issued in January 2016, reports survey data estimating that 21 percent of students are food insecure — though many faculty say that figure is as high as 50 percent in their areas. (e survey also estimates that 8.7 percent of students are homeless.) Opposite page and left: Students at College of the Sequoias' farmers' market and food pantry. 33 January / February 2017 Syndee Wood

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