Bakersfield College pantry looks to help students overcome food insecurity

Bakersfield College Food Pantry (FILE)
Posted at 4:24 PM, Aug 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-24 20:47:11-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Senate Bill 20 is aimed at helping low-income college students get food. But in Bakersfield, when it comes to food like canned goods, help is already in place.

According to the California Student Aid Commission, nearly one in three college students face food and housing insecurity with students of color reporting the most struggles in both areas.

Senate Bill 20 would require the Student Aid Commission to notify students of their benefits to the CalFresh program. Typically, a college student can be accepted in the program if they are low-income and work 20 plus hours a week.

At Bakersfield College, the Renegade Pantry is already being utilized.

“So we have a lot of people that actually need it, like, they'll come in here, and they are just really hungry,” said Isabel Varelas, the pantry coordinator.

“We are a little bit ahead of the curve here at BC with our food pantry, of course, it's up and running, so students can stop by and use the service,” added Caitlin Davidson, program manager for basic needs.

Operating these programs doesn’t come without a cost. According to James Burger, the Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator for the Community Action Partnership of Kern, programs like these are feeling the impact of inflation.

“We have 150 partner sites like CSUB and BC across Kern County, and all of them are reporting increased demand for food.”

Burger says Bakersfield College has gone from seeing 300 students a week to 300 a day.

“I think that they really appreciate it since like prices of everything is going up,” said Varelas.

If you would like to donate to the pantry, accepted items range from clothing to food and even cleaning supplies