When the Poly Pantry was established at Cal Poly Pomona in early 2019, it was primarily a resource to provide students in need with free food assistance. However, the Poly Pantry is becoming much more than just a food bank.
One such way in which the Poly Pantry is expanding its services is through its mission to connect students with resources both on campus and within the community. One of those resources is a free, off-campus laundry service students can use.
“One of the new things that we have that we’ll be telling students about at the Poly Pantry is called ‘Laundry Love,’” said Megan Gomez, Associated Students Inc. (ASI) care student assistant. “It’s basically a laundry place on Holt (Avenue) in Pomona where you can get your laundry done for free … you don’t have to pay anything …. If you’re a student, you just show them your student ID and you’ll be able to get your laundry done for free.”
Laundry Love’s hours of operation are from 6-8 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of every month.
The Poly Pantry is also providing additional resources for students to maximize the balance on Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards.
“We have a feature on our website as well … under ‘CalFresh Farmer’s Market’…. By clicking on that you can locate the nearest farmer’s market that accepts EBT benefits, and they have a green box that will show the farmer’s markets that match benefits up to $10. So if you have $10 on an EBT card, you can get $20 of produce at those farmer’s markets,” said Alyssa Christiansen, ASI care coordinator.
EBT cards can be used both on and off campus. There are three locations on campus that accept EBT: the Farm Store, the Vista Market and the Pony Express.
The Poly Pantry now provides assistance for students interested in applying to the CalFresh program but might have questions about the process. CalFresh is a nutrition assistance program that helps low-income individuals and families buy food.
“CalFresh is a great resource for food assistance. It’s financial aid for food,” Christiansen said.
Students interested in receiving assistance can apply by making an appointment on the Basic Needs website. Under the ‘food resource’ tab, students can click the CalFresh outreach button to schedule an appointment. After selecting a date and time that works with their schedule, students will meet with a CalFresh ambassador at the Wellness Center (Building 46).
CalFresh ambassadors, who are students and/or staff, will assist students in checking whether they qualify for CalFresh via a prescreening process. Ambassadors will then determine what benefits qualifying students are able to utilize based on criteria, and will provide assistance with both the application process and proper document submission.
Students can also utilize the updated Poly Pantry website to find links that allow them to easily locate nearby farmer’s markets, food pantries, soup kitchens and even free food on campus.
“MyBar is a great way to find free food events on campus,” Christiansen said. “We have a link on the Poly Pantry website and you can find any free food event by searching through the perks and making a filter for ‘free food’ that will help you know what clubs and organizations have events on campus that also offer food.”
Additionally, students can conveniently keep up with and find free food events by following ASI’s Instagram account.
The Poly Pantry offers a wide variety of food from canned goods to dried food, but the personal care item selection has also been expanded since after the winter break. Now students can grab food containers, razors, tampons, toothpaste and more as they shop for food.
“I learned about the Poly Pantry and I’ve been kind of in need, so I was able to go in and they cleared up everything,” said Kierre Alston, a fourth-year computer information systems student. “I had some questions and they were very helpful. I got all the stuff I needed with a nice variety of food … and yeah it was nice.”