Mesa College opens food pantry for students

SAN DIEGO – A place for needy students to acquire food, toiletries and clothing in an emergency opened Thursday at Mesa College.

The Stand is located on the second floor of the Student Services Center at the campus in Kearny Mesa.

Of Mesa College students who took part in a national study two years ago, around 39 percent reported having some problems in paying for food. That included about 15 percent who said they had “a lot” or “a tremendous amount” of difficulty purchasing something to eat.

Over 27 percent said they had not paid their full mortgage or rent at some point in the previous year, while 1.3 percent stayed in a shelter and 8 percent lived in some other form of temporary housing.

The results were roughly similar to students at Miramar College and City College, which has a similar facility. All three campuses are part of the San Diego Community College District.

“We are proud to open this important resource for our students,” said Pamela Luster, Mesa College president. “Food insecurity impacts students every day, and we will now be able to help our students stay focused on their academic journey.”

College officials said their goal is to provide emergency food resources to increase students’ ability to concentrate and be successful in classes. The Stand will also offer free attire appropriate for career fairs, interviews, daily life and the workplace, in order to improve self-esteem and success.

Mesa College student government leader previously formed a homeless outreach team, made food and hygiene goods available, and sponsored a Thanksgiving meal for students who have no place to go for the holidays.

The Stand is open to low-income students and those who have better means but don’t qualify for financial aid — which often leaves them barely getting by, school officials said.

The Stand will be set-up on a point system. Mesa College students will be eligible for up to 16 points credit per week to use towards food, clothing or toiletries, and up to 50 points in a semester. Students register with their student ID number and the system will help track points and items received.

Donations from the community are welcome. Foods that are easy and quick to prepare, which can be eaten as is or cooked in a microwave, are especially wanted.

For clothing, The Stand will accept clean business attire that’s not in need of repair. Shoes and accessories — other than ties, scarves or clean purses — will not be accepted.