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Chaparral 2016-2017: 25.5 Garfield Gleanings

Garfield Gleanings (May 2017)

Garfield Gleanings: Garfield's Food For Thought Pantry

by Rosemarie Shamieh
Garfield Campus

The Garfield Food Pantry, which only opened its doors this semester, has served the needs of 272 students (aka clients) so far!

The Pantry’s hours of operations
Monday/Wednesday 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Tuesday/Thursday 4 - 6 p.m.
Tropico 207

The Garfield Pantry cohorts are a diverse and inclusive group and proud of it. At any given time you can hear two or three languages spoken in line or in the Pantry. And always with a smile!

Why Have A Pantry On Campus?

According to a study by University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1 in 5 community college students are hungry. It’s proven that hunger is related to a student’s inability to pay attention in class and to poor learning retention. (Take a look at the research data on the side bar.)

Who Does the Pantry Serve?

Every currently enrolled GCC student may take advantage of the Pantry—on either campus! (Thank you faculty and staff for continuously sending us your students that are at risk for hunger.)

Clients just need to sign in with their student ID and start choosing their allotment of 10 items a week—11 items if they bring their own grocery bag.

How Does the Pantry Work?

It’s easy: students who come to the Pantry during operating hours sign an intake form and then enter the shelf-lined room escorted by a trained Student Volunteer who is able to answer their questions and help them make their selections, shopping-style, from a variety of food options. They have 10-points at the start of each week to spend on items that are marked 1, 2, or 3 points.

How Many Clients Visit the Pantry a Day?

Since hunger is an equal opportunity despot, our clients come from all walks, and that number varies: we serve anywhere from 40 to 60 returning students a day—including 6-10 new students a day!

Who Mans The Pantry?

Each shift the Garfield Pantry has one Student Worker  entering the information in the computer, two to three Student Volunteers assisting clients, controlling the crowd, helping the worker, and one faculty in charge (aka PIC: Person In Charge) who fortunately does not need to work the Pantry, just be on-campus during the hours of operation. Each individual has clearly defined duties and all have signed contracts agreeing to our rules and a strict code of conduct: compassion and respect being high on the list.

Student Workers are currently enrolled credit students who qualify for on-campus, paying positions at a set number of hours.

Faculty/Person in Charge (PIC) is responsible for opening and locking up the Food Pantry during each shift, and they must be on campus for the two hours the pantry is open in case something comes up and they are needed to advise or assist. Although thankfully, some faculty choose to roll up their sleeves and help with any ‘task du jour’ that presents itself.

Student Volunteers are current noncredit and credit students who share in the Food Pantry’s mission and freely give of their time and energy every week—and learn important operational, customer service, and communication skills in the process.

We currently have 18 active volunteers, (plus another 5 that are temporarily inactive). From the 18 active volunteers, 5 are from the Garfield Service Learning program, 2 travel down to us from the Verdugo campus, and another 4 are my veteran volunteers that call themselves the Garfield Ambassadors! The Ambassadors are noncredit business students who were first to say, “How can I help?” And they haven’t stopped helping since. They recruit other students, help organize and troubleshoot situations that arise, pilot different operational procedures, unload my car and stock/re-stock the Pantry shelves, print (and translate) signs, and even purchase supplies. No wonder they take pride in calling themselves the Garfield Ambassadors!

The absolute best testament to the program is when a Pantry client, then asks to become a Student Volunteer at the Pantry—what a proud moment for all.

Garfield Pantry Coordinator: I’m the Garfield Pantry’s point person for our campus. I liaise with the Verdugo Pantry personnel; I recruit, organize, train, and schedule the volunteers and faculty in charge. Although the Garfield Pantry cohorts don’t have conventional meetings, we are emailing, texting, and calling each other daily to troubleshoot, brainstorm, and share AHA! moments with each other. Oh, and I’m also the designated weekly shopper for our location and the self-appointed commentator. (And up until spring break, I was the Tuesday PIC.)  

The Food For Thought Pantry Taskforce: Paul Mayer (Chair), Beth Pflueger, Brian Reff, Aarin Edwards, Ellen Oppenberg, Kevin Mack, Austin Kemie, and Greg Perkins.

How Can We Help Stock The Pantry?

I’m so glad you asked! The students at Garfield tend to request fresh vegetables, juice, cheese, yogurt, sugar, cold cuts, cooking oil, coffee! (Oh, and did you know we have a full-sized refrigerator in the room?!) So we can accept your perishable items as well as:

Dry items: rice, lentils, pasta, sugar, crackers, tortillas, cereals, mac & cheese, beans, oatmeal.

Canned items: tuna, sardines, chicken, corn, peaches, fruit cocktail, pasta sauce.

Ready to eat items: peanut butter, almond butter, nutrition bars (a godsend for students who don’t have ready access to a kitchen.)

Personal hygiene items: soap, shampoo, deodorant, shaving cream, toilet paper, toothpaste/brush, facial tissue, etc.

Bags: plastic and paper!

Wait, you know, of course you can make monetary donations too, right? (And for tax purposes, it’s so much easier to document a charitable donation than an in-kind contribution.) Many faculty and staff have already started making monetary contributions through their pay checks, (just be sure and indicate that your contributions are to be designated for the GCC "Food for Thought" Pantry). Setting things up is simple, just click on the link: and follow the instructions. Remember, as Pantry personnel we have access to food at a fraction of the price, which makes your charitable dollars go as far as possible!

In addition to our weekly scheduled shopping, the Pantry purchases by-weekly shipments of non-perishable foods from the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. We are currently spending close to $1,800 per month keeping our pantries stocked—and at times the demand outweighs our food supply!

Any Opposition?

Well, sure, we have faculty and staff members (albeit less every week) who ask, “Why have a food pantry on campus?”. They feel that we’re serving opportunists and not the needy. But we are ALSO feeding the needy and more of the ‘naysayers’ are coming around.

From the Heart?

When we give of our time and energy, we get back something amazing: the feeling that we’re making a difference, one person at a time. You have the power to make a difference.  Margaret Mead said it best: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

The Garfield Campus community and the Garfield Pantry cohorts make up that small group!!

Picture, from left to right: Ambassadors Olivia Murillo & Olga Alvarado.

Did you know we have students that are at risk of hunger?

  • In 2015, 2.9 million (8%) households with seniors age 65 and older experienced food insecurity. More than 1.2 million (9%) households composed of seniors living alone experienced food insecurity.i
  • In 2014, 5.7 million Americans over the age of 60 were food insecure. This constitutes 9 percent of all seniors.ii
  • Food insecure seniors are at increased risk for chronic health conditions, even when controlling for other factors such as income:iii
    • 60 percent more likely to experience depression
    • 53 percent more likely to report a heart attack
    • 52 percent more likely to develop asthma
    • 40 percent more likely to report an experience of congestive heart failure
  • The number of food insecure seniors is projected to increase by 50% when the youngest of the Baby Boom Generation reaches age 60 in 2025.iv

For seniors, protecting oneself from food insecurity and hunger can be more difficult than for the general population. For example, a study that focused on the experience of food insecurity among the elderly population found that food insecure seniors sometimes had enough money to purchase food but did not have the resources to access or prepare food due to lack of transportation, functional limitations, or health problems.v

[i] Coleman-Jensen, A., Rabbitt, M. P., Gregory, C., & Singh, A. (2016). Household Food Security in the United States in 2015, Table 2. USDA ERS.

[i] Ziliak, J.P. & Gundersen, C. (2016) The State of Senior Hunger in America 2014: An Annual Report, Supplement. National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH).

[iii] Feeding America and National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH). (2014, March). Spotlight on Senior Health Adverse Health Outcomes of Food Insecure Older Americans.

[iv] Ziliak, J. & Gunderson, C. (2009, September). Senior Hunger in the United States: Differences across states and rural and urban areas.  University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research Special Reports.

[v] Wolfe WS, Frongillo EA, Valois P. (2003).  Understanding the experience of food insecurity by elders suggests ways to improve its measurement.  J. Nutr. 133:2762-2769, 2003.

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