CHICO, Calif. - Chico State University Senior Daniel Lopez has perhaps the best description of being hungry.
“I personally cannot concentrate on an empty stomach; feeling hunger is one of the worst feelings ever.”
He tells Action News Now Morning Anchor Julia Yarbough the reason he interns at the Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry on campus, is because the service has previously helped him fill an unanticipated void.
He says many people don’t think about how they are going to pay for food before going to college. He says students often find that the budget they thought would cover food and housing, does not stretch far enough to cover any kind of emergency or unanticipated expense.
The experience of Lopez is not unusual. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates over 37 million Americans experienced food insecurity in 2018.
Joe Picard, who oversees the Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry says food insecurity is when an individual lacks adequate access to affordable food. He says at Chico State, administrators say students have between a 20-50 percent ‘very to very low’ food security numbers. He says that is higher than the national average.
Community and local corporate partners help keep the pantry shelves stocked with not only food staples but also personal hygiene products. Lopez says fresh produce is his favorite; especially Kale.
He says the pantry gets Kale all the time, which he uses to make fresh salads that serve as a dinner or a quick snack.
Butte College offers a similar service for students. On the campus, students can step into the Roadrunner Hub in order to access shelves stocked with food essentials.
Carrie Soldate, manages the Roadrunner Hub. She says part of the reason for the service, is that instructors were noticing students were not doing very well in class, because they were hungry. She says she recalls at least one student passing out in class, because they had not eaten all day.
Soldate says of the 12-thousand students at Butte College each semester, some 71% report experiencing food or housing insecurity. She says the hub is open throughout the school year and sees roughly 1-thousand students week.
This year, the College offered students a holiday bonus. A select group; nominated by their peers, received a special Thanksgiving basket, filled with all the side items needed to create a holiday meal. The students also received a 20-dollar gift card to purchase a turkey.
Student Natasha Simpson says the basket was a nice surprise, saying she was nervous about what she would have for Thanksgiving. She said had she not received the basket, a trip to a fast-food outlet was probably in her plans.
Both the Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry and the Butte College Roadrunner Hub accept donations from the community all year in order to provide assistance to students throughout the school year. The outlets also offer students help with locating other state and federal food assistance programs and help with housing.