Community College Fights Hunger

News Staff

Palm Desert, CA

A recent study showed something alarming: one in five community college students in America is food insecure, meaning they sometimes go hungry because they can’t afford to buy enough food.

"I actually experienced that a couple times myself, you know missing breakfast, you know you come to school didn’t have any coffee," says Scott Relerford, a student ambassador at College of the Desert in Palm Desert, who volunteers and receives help from a new food program.

But on this day 145 COD students who would have gone hungry will have plenty to eat.

Thanks to COD and Find Food Bank’s monthly on campus food distribution, "It’s really nice to just have this opportunity to just have this opportunity to actually not only get food but healthy food," says Relerford.

Former COD student Nikol Ocampo who now works at Find, helped start the program after seeing the need in her nutrition class, she says the face of hunger is not what you think, "The people that are in our line ups are those that are our neighbors, those that live in our communities those that work with us  … it is not that of somebody who is you know homeless or has some sort of addiction or some sort of a mental illness, it is somebody who is just in need of food who is struggling to make ends meet."

Ocampo says this program is important for students to succeed, "It is something that is critical to their education, if they’re not eating properly, they’re worried about finances, you know they’re not getting good grades, they’re not attending school, they’re not sleeping right, i mean there’s a million different things that kind of coincide with hunger."

The food bank being on campus makes it more accessible to students who would shy away from asking for help. 

"Having other students here stand in line and get food from the find food bank kind of relieves that pressure of feeling like you’re alone you know and that you’re the only one in need," says Relerford. 

A future doctor, psychologist, business owner and teacher say this program is not giving them food, it’s helping them achieve their dreams.

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