PALM DESERT, CA – Since the start of the semester, College of the Desert student Maria Arcos has been coming to the campus food pantry, picking up essential items from food to cleaning supplies.
“It really does help because you already know you have something in your kitchen or in your cupboards,” she said.
“With food costs rising, Arcos says she’s using this pantry to help feed her family.
“A box of cereal is almost six bucks,” she said. “So, it’s really helpful.”
Arcos is one of the hundreds of COD students benefitting from this program.
“We are seeing an increase. Just alone in the summer we saw over 1,500 students who came into our pantry,” said Jocelyn Vargas, College of the Desert’s basic needs manager.
Vargas says COD partnered with Find Food Bank last year to launch food pantries on their Palm Desert and Indio college campuses.
Since then, more students are using these services as a lifeline.
“Often times for families, the first place where they can cut their budget is really food,” Vargas said. “We are seeing that families as well as our students are making some of those hard decisions.”
What’s happening on COD campuses is happening across the country.
According to the non-profit Feeding America, one in every six Americans received charitable food assistance sometime in 2022.
On the COD campus, students and staff are running their food pantries. Enrolled students can come once a week and get 15 pounds of food and four household items for free.
“They’re not only helping me but other students as well,” Arcos said. “I never imagined that a program like this could be set up.”
Next semester, COD leaders are looking to expand their basic needs services even more while working to ensure no student ever goes hungry.
This story was written and reported by Kai Beech.