Hancock College program helps students tackle food insecurity

SANTA MARIA, Calif .– Allan Hancock College is helping students tackle food insecurity with a weekly food sharing program.

Held every Thursday, the program provides students in need with prepackaged products and non-perishable foods.

“These are things that will help them get through the week,” said Henry Schroff, student activities specialist at Hancock College. “Every week they can come back for food. This program helps our students who have feeding problems or don’t have money for food, so they definitely will.”

The program was in place before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the aim of addressing student food insecurity.

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, the need for the program has increased.

“We are seeing a significantly greater need for students,” said Schroff. “With the pandemic, I think the needs are higher, so we’ve seen a larger student population.”

Food for the student portion of food is provided by the Santa Barbara County Food Bank.

“We get a lot of fruits and veg, which I love,” said student Danielle Denton. “A lot of them are fresh from our local areas so it’s really cool. I get peanut butter all the time so we get a lot of really good fresh healthy food.”

Denton added that the food sharing service is particularly useful given the rise in grocery expenses.

“The food sharing program really means a lot, especially as a mom, I have a five year old at home, so being a student and a mom is really, really hard,” Denton said. “I really appreciate the fact that the school gives us free food.”

Hancock College hosts the program at its two campuses every Thursday, in Santa Maria at 1:30 p.m. and in Lompoc at 2:30 p.m.

“We’re really trying to get the word out to all the students,” Schroff said. “We’ve been texting and social media, but it’s still not reaching the students. We want them to know we’re there for them. We can provide any service they may need and the service will actually go quite well. far .”

Food is distributed at both sites by student ambassadors, who donate their time to make the program work.

“They get first-hand experience of what it means to give back to the community, so it’s a lesson for life,” said volunteer Shirley Hinzo. “It’s time very well spent.”

Any student at Hancock College is entitled to receive free food.

The college also hosts a drive-through food sharing event for all community members on the third Saturday of each month at 10 a.m.

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