CPP programs assist students struggling with food or housing insecurity

The Cal Poly Pomona Foundation has partnered with the Poly Pantry and the university’s Basic Needs initiative for Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, providing Thanksgiving meal passes to CPP students who are struggling with food insecurity.

Research from the California State University reports that 41.6% of CSU students experience food insecurity and 10.9% experience homelessness.

“This is something we’ve never done before, partnering with ASI, Poly Pantry, and the Basic Needs initiative to give back in a way that we can, because we know students are going through some pretty difficult times right now,” said Arielle Torrez, marketing development coordinator for the CPP Foundation.

The Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week will be hosted virtually from Nov. 15 through Nov. 21 to educate CPP students on poverty and food insecurity.

To assist, the CPP Foundation will be donating two meal passes to the Poly Pantry for every purchase of the full turkey dinner. It is also offering an option for students to donate to someone in particular or donate to an anonymous food insecure student from the Basic Needs Initiative or an employee.

Kara Morris, third-year hospitality management student interning as a kitchen fundamental, will be prepping harvest vegetables on Nov. 23 for the Thanksgiving meals. Morris believes people should support the CPP Foundation, not only to donate to those in need but also for the student workers. The Centerpointe Dining Commons currently employs nine student workers.

“Knowing that these meals will be donated drives my passion even more, that’s why I wanted to do this program, to serve my fellow Cal Poly Community,” said Morris.

In 2019, the CPP Foundation sold 30 to 50 Thanksgiving meals. According to Aaron Neilson, dining services director, if CPP Foundation were to sell around the same amount, that would mean anywhere between 60 to 100 meals could potentially be donated to students in need.

“There’s ways to reach out and give if you feel that you need to, and if you are a student who is in need, the Cal Poly Pomona Basic Needs Initiative is there, get engaged with them, don’t go hungry,” said Neilson.

CPP students can also engage in the Swipe Out Hunger program. This enables them to donate a meal to another student or support the Poly Pantry’s Amazon wish list.

This year’s Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week will host virtual panels in which CPP staff and students will share personal experiences with housing or food insecurity, discuss campus efforts in addressing homelessness, and screen the documentary, “Hungry to Learn,” to discuss with attendees.

“Students who might be struggling with those same issues will be able to see themselves in these
stories and know that there are resources on campus,” said Judy Crawford, care services coordinator for Bronco Needs. “We’ve grown quite a bit over our short time of being a program on this campus, and I think that where we’re at right now, you know, we could always use more funds and more resources.”

The Basic Needs Initiative will purchase thanksgiving meals from the CPP Foundation for 12 students within their emergency assistance housing programs. The Basic Needs will be offering an incentive, GrubHub gift cards to students who register for Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week and join the viewing.

“The biggest way that folks can support this event, or this week of events, is participating in them, sharing it with others,” said Crawford. “So that awareness is spread and each year more people are aware of this as an issue and the resources that exist on our campus.”

Students can register for the virtual panels and learn more on how to help by visiting https://www.cpp.edu/basicneeds/events/2020-hahaw.shtml. Students can also purchase a Thanksgiving meal program by visiting https://foundation.cpp.edu/dining/thanksgiving.aspx.

(Feature image courtesy of Libby Penner)