November 24, 2016
Mesa Community Stands Up Against Hunger
New pantry on campus to provide food, business clothing and toiletries to students
In an effort to decrease the effects of poverty, hunger and homelessness for students
on campus, San Diego Mesa College is opening “The Stand” – a new space that will provide
students with essential items for everyday life.
Once it is in full operation during the spring semester, students will be able to
pick up three items per week from The Stand food pantry and professional clothing
closet on the third floor of the Student Services building.
Johanna Aleman, a student services technician from the Department of Student Success
and Equity, said that the development of the food pantry aspect of The Stand began
as a response to students who exhibited a need for food on campus.
Students, especially those who were either homeless or foster youth, would often ask
Aleman for snacks or food from potlucks, but when a report came out from the Wisconsin Hope Lab confirming the needs of students, she felt compelled to do something about it on
WHL’s “Hungry to Learn” study included survey participation from students at the San Diego Community College District,
SUNY Onondaga, Western Wyoming Community College, Delgado Community College, Montgomery
Community College, Essex County College and Moraine Park Technical College.
More than 48,000 students participated in the study, which found that 39 percent of
those surveyed had low or very low levels of food security, at 19 and 20 percent respectively.
The study also found that of the community college students surveyed, 13 percent had
“The mom in me didn’t like that – the caretaker in me wanted to do something about
it,” Aleman said. “I got the backing of the administration, and there had already
been some talk about wanting to have a food pantry on campus, so I had a lot of support
from campus moving forward.”
The Stand’s business clothing side began in response to local employers stating that
students were sometimes dressed inappropriately when they came in for interviews.
There had previously been business clothing drives to help students on campus, but
there wasn’t a space to house a program permanently.
Soon after a space had been found for the food pantry, Transfer Center and Career
Guidance Center Supervisor Claudia Estrada started to collaborate with Aleman to add
a professional clothing closet to the space.
“Students need food – we knew that – and they’ll continue to need food if they can’t
get back on their feet,” Estrada said. “It was kind of a cycle – sometimes they don’t
have an address that they can put on a job application, and sometimes they don’t have
clothes to wear to an interview.”
The collaboration between Aleman and Estrada was a natural fit. Not only is it a way
help students to obtain food and personal hygiene items now, but it also helps unemployed
or underemployed students to get hired so that they have more resources for food and
shelter in the future.
In November, The Stand had a food drive for non-perishable food items where they collected
two large bins of food and toiletries, which has increased the pantry’s stock and
added to the large donation from a private donor.
Estrada and Aleman are currently planning a business clothing drive for December.
Suggested items for donation include non-perishable food items, business clothes and
travel-size toiletries. At this time, The Stand does not accept donations of shoes
or accessories, except for ties.
To find out more about how to donate items to The Stand, contact Johanna Aleman via
email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at (619)388-5940, or Claudia Estrada via phone at (619) 388-5040 or
via email at email@example.com.
Tags: The Stand, Equity and Excellence