Fullerton College, Cypress College and North Orange Continuing Education (NOCE) have partnered with Pathways of Hope to increase services for the most vulnerable students struggling with food and housing insecurity at each of the three schools.
The North Orange County Community College District (NOCCCD) and Pathways of Hope launched this partnership on July 1, 2019. Through the partnership, Pathways of Hope will operate and scale up existing food banks at Cypress College, Fullerton College, and establish a new food bank at NOCE’s Anaheim Campus. Pathways of Hope staff will operate food and resource hubs at each site where students may receive food and hygiene products for free, as well as housing referral services.
“Many of our students do not have the security of knowing where their next meal will come from or where they will sleep at night. As educators committed to student success, we are compelled to expand our support services more than ever before,” said NOCCCD Chancellor Cheryl Marshall. “By partnering with an established and reputable community-based organization such as Pathways of Hope, we are much better prepared to address the needs of our students.”
Fifty percent of California community college students experience food insecurity, according to a recent survey of 57 colleges in the state. Local data mirrors this staggering statewide trend, according to the #RealCollege survey conducted by the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice at Temple University.
At Fullerton College, 900 students participated in the survey. Fifty percent of respondents were food insecure in the prior 30 days; 61 percent of respondents were housing insecure in the previous year; and 17 percent of respondents were homeless in the previous year. Cypress College had more than 1,100 students participate in the #RealCollege survey; the results showed that 44.2 percent of participating students reported having experienced food insecurity, 55.5 percent experienced housing insecurity, and 13.7 percent experienced homelessness. At NOCE, results indicated that 45.5 percent of respondents experienced food insecurity, 68.5 percent experienced housing insecurity, and 15.3 percent experienced homelessness.
“We know that student hunger and homelessness have been a significant problem on our college campuses for some time. We believe utilizing our expertise in these areas to assist our students on college campuses helps improve stability, academic outcomes, and the quality of life for everyone. This is aligned with Pathways of Hope’s mission completely, and we look forward to expanding this partnership and adding other partnerships in the years to come,” said Pathways of Hope Executive Director David Gillanders, Jr.
Support from Pathways of Hope staff will build on previous work at the colleges. Spearheaded by a team of concerned faculty, Fullerton College opened its food bank in 2012 and has served as a regional model for other colleges. Since its founding, the Chris Lamm & Toni Dubois-Walker Memorial Food Bank has predominantly been run with volunteers who stock the food bank from food drives, fundraising, and support from large regional food banks. Previous state regulations precluding colleges from spending public money on food banks limited Fullerton College’s food bank’s hours of operations to one-day a week.
In 2017-2018, the State Hunger-Free Campus initiative backed by Senate Bill 85, created a funding stream and a regulatory avenue for community colleges to provide staffing and food banks for students. The District will utilize $197,800 in one-time carryover funds to contract services with Pathways of Hope during the 2019-2020 academic year to provide services for the three schools.
Gillanders, Jr. is equally eager to help students at Cypress College, Fullerton College, and NOCE.
“For 44 years Pathways of Hope have been experts in assisting North Orange County community members experiencing hunger and homelessness. This targeted approach on college campuses allows us to zero in on a particular population that needs ongoing support to ensure academic success and stability,” said Gillanders, Jr.