Financially Strained Turn to ‘Food for Thought’

El Vaquero Staff Writer

If each state has two senators, how many senators are there all together? Questions like this were pondered at the taping of “Street Smarts” TV show on Sept. 11.

By taking students to TV tapings, money is raised per student attendance, for the Food for Thought Program.

In this case, 50 students from GCC’s mass communications classes went to the taping of the television show raising a total of $1000 to be donated.

Professor of Mass Communications, Mike Eberts, said, “It’s just natural for me to go to television tapings because they are appropriate for my classes.”

He said that he will continue each semester doing one fund-raiser for Food for Thought and also one for Save a Class fund, which raises money to do exactly what the name suggests.

Food for thought was designed to financially help students, “who have to choose between buying food and books,” Joy Cook, assistant dean of Disabled Students Services, said. She added, “It’s a terrific investment in serious students who need a little bit of help to achieve their goals here at Glendale.”

The applicants are usually a “cross-section” of the college student community. They are “people down on their luck,” said Cook.

In 1997, Food for Thought was able to award $25 a month to a few students. Since then the program grew each year. The monthly amount grew from $25 to $100.

One student in a letter addressed to Food for Thought said, “I was in a really tough spot and money was just not available, but now I have some hope and to see my son eating fresh fruits and vegetables is a huge blessing in our time of need.”

To apply for Food for Thought the students need to fill out an application, which requires personal information, such as family income, educational goals, housing information and the number of family members living in a household.

The students also need to meet with a counselor and come up with a Student Educational Plan.

The committee views the applications and if found eligible, the students receive $100 a month in food vouchers that they can spend at major grocery stores for two consecutive semesters.

If the student also attends winter or summer session, he or she will receive an additional $100. The maximum amount that a student can get is $1000.

Although there are almost 200 applicants a semester, the program is able to fund only 20. “It depends on how successful our fund -raisers have been,” said Cook, who is also the chair of the committee. The committee is made up of a diverse group of campus administrators.

“The process that we use to determine who gets the fund is difficult because we have so many applicants,” said Vicki Washington, assistant dean of Extended Opportunity Program and Services.

The program that is unique to GCC has proven to be helpful to the progress of those who are funded by it.

Statistics, put together by the committee, have shown that those students have higher GPAs and are continuing from semester to semester.

“The purpose was to help student retention and I believe that’s what it’s doing; students are staying in school and they are being successful,” said Washington.

Stirdivant said, “that knowing that someone cares for them allows them to be motivated, hardworking, dedicated and do better in school.”

“If you want to make an investment in the future of deserving and hard working students this [the Food for Thought program] would be a great place to donate,” said Cook.