Newsroom Raises Funds, Gathers Goods for Food Pantry

In the spirit of giving, El Vaquero staff rallies donations

Somewhere near four out of 10 students who attend college or university have experienced “low” or “very low” food insecurity, according to a survey from HOPE Lab, an advocacy group that seeks greater access to affordable higher education. The same report from HOPE Lab also found that 46 percent of community college students had experienced some level of homelessness, compared to 36 percent of four-year college students. It was with this kind of understanding that Glendale College launched its own GCC Food for Thought Pantry.

El Vaquero newspaper wanted to play a small role in helping during the holiday season and launched its “21 Days of Gratitude.” In that time, the newsroom, led by staffers Carolina Diaz and Alin Pasokhian, gathered over 15 grocery bags of items and $50 in cash donations.

“For me, what made me launch this event was the fact that for a while I knew how people struggle with food,” said Diaz. “Once the struggle I went through was over, it made me realize that I wanted to help somehow.” Diaz said that since GCC already had an existing pantry, it made perfect sense to collaborate.

At GCC, it’s estimated that up to 25 percent of students have severe food insecurity. Indeed, an overwhelming correlation has been found in studies on college performance and food scarcity, which prompted the Academic Senate to come up with a pantry as a solution.

“Some students may know about the services of the Food for Thought Pantry, but they might be shy or embarrassed about their financial situation to go receive help,” said Diaz. “I don’t think a lot of students know about the Food for Thought Pantry and it is a shame, as they are a great at helping students in need and completely anonymous.”

Exact numbers on food insecurity are hard to gauge, mostly because of a lack of data and shame that surrounds poverty. However, study after study continues to paint a picture that shows many of those students seeking a better life through a college education have experienced hard times.

“I remember in 2016 when they launched the pantry,” said James Ojano-Simonsson, who also helped the El Vaquero donation drive and was struck by the number of students waiting to be assisted when he dropped off goods. “Seeing it now two years later it’s clear they’re making a huge difference for students who are struggling.”