Hunger during the holidays is a hard reality for many college students, which explains why a community donation this week to Delta College’s new Student Food Pantry was so appreciated – and why more help is needed in the weeks and months to come.
Former Delta Trustee Maria Elena Serna and other members of the Native Daughters of the Golden West donated about 20 bags stuffed with pasta, canned soups and vegetables, juice, and cereal, in addition to clothing.
Food Pantry organizers are asking other community groups, businesses and individuals to consider making their own donations, not only during the holidays but all year long.
The need is clear: More than half of California community college students have trouble affording balanced meals or worry about running out of food, according to a recent survey.
At Delta, nearly 1,000 students have signed up for the food pantry since it opened last spring, and keeping the shelves stocked is a challenge. About 75 percent of the food pantry’s budget for the 2019-20 academic year has already been spent.
“We’re extremely grateful for this donation, and for others that have been made so far,” said Shayla Walker, director of student activities at Delta College. “The good news is that our students are using the food pantry. The goal now is to work with community groups and individuals to make this effort sustainable into the future.”
Serna, who was first elected to Delta’s Board of Trustees in 1990, was shocked when she first heard the statistics about community college students struggling with food insecurity.
“I was taken aback,” she said. “It really got to me. We have to do better.”
So she went to work, soliciting donations from fellow members of the Native Daughters’ Lodi-based Zinfandel Parlor No. 337. They dropped off their donations on Nov. 25, accompanied by Delta College Trustee Charles Jennings and other college officials and students.
“We were really pleased to be able to help out,” Serna said. “It was a natural thing to do to help out my alma mater and the alma mater of many, many people in San Joaquin County.”
There are a number of ways to help: Make a financial donation by sending a check specifically for the food pantry to Delta College Foundation, Attn: President’s Office, 5151 Pacific Ave., Stockton CA 95207 or drop off nonperishable foods at the Office of Student Activities in Shima 101C. Please call (209) 954-5100 to schedule your drop-off time. Visit the Food Pantry website for a list of suggested items. Interested donors can also buy items online by visiting the Food Pantry’s “wish lists” at Amazon and Walmart.