We don’t have to look far to see the impact of food insecurity on college campuses. Recent reports show that 48 percent of community college students are food insecure. At Cerritos College, 25 percent of students qualify for the state’s EBT/CalFresh program. The CalFresh Program, federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), issues monthly electronic benefits that can be used to purchase most foods at many markets and restaurants. As such, students are facing an unspeakable dilemma – having to choose between paying for living expenses or purchasing a meal.
It is a sunny Thursday morning in Aptos, California, and a large truck from Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz drives onto the campus of Cabrillo College. Boxes of fresh produce – carrots, watermelons, potatoes, lettuce, corn, and tomatoes – are unloaded by student volunteers and brought into the upper quad. A sandwich board sign with large letters announcing “Free Produce” at the “Cabrillo Fresh Market” is strategically placed in the middle of the main thoroughfare, hoping to attract the attention of passers-by on their way to and from class. Anyone within the Cabrillo community is welcome.