Just about every week, Susan Fila hears about a Santa Monica College (SMC) student who is either homeless or facing eviction.
“Unfortunately, we see it more often than any of us would like,” says Fila. She is director of health and well-being at the college. With the recent coronavirus quarantines, the problem has intensified. Prior to coronavirus, an estimated 50% or upward of 15,000 students at SMC often forego at least one meal per day due to the lack of affordable and healthy dining options on or near campus (that’s what we mean when we say food desert).
The problem has been addressed through campus food closets with fridges full of healthy grab-and-go fare and a welcoming food pantry on the main campus named Bodega. In addition, a new partnership with Everytablehas allowed for the creation of a new lounge in the college’s media center building.
At both the food closet locations and the new lounge, any student or staff member can go enter credit card info or vouchers (from Cal Fresh, SNAP and other programs) for quick meals like salads, sandwiches and wraps.
The new lounge at the media center is designed to be “a modern, cozy, funky hangout spot,” Fila says. As with all the locations, “we want to make it more of a community space vs. a needs-based space.”
Since hanging out as we know it has been postponed because of coronavirus closures, Everytable has pivoted with meal delivery packages and monthlong (commitment-free) subscriptions for prepared meals. Community members who subscribe to Everytable and use promotion code SMCFRIEND will allow Everytable to donate two meals to SMC students struggling with food insecurity. SMC Foundation’s Feed Their Hopes campaign is collecting donations to address food insecurity exacerbated by COVID-19, and also food subscription scholarships for SMC’s most vulnerable students including foster youth, veterans, single parents and others. Older adult students who have been self-isolating are also eligible for the food subscription scholarships.
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