DVC Food Pantry Program Keeps Battling Food Insecurity During the Pandemic

Food Banks, as an essential resource, remain open. (Photo courtesy of Diablo Valley College)

Food Banks, as an essential resource, remain open. (Photo courtesy of Diablo Valley College)

Navid Mehdipour, Staff member

Diablo Valley College students wearing masks and practicing social distancing lined up on campus on May 8 to receive packages of food delivered by the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano to the DVC cafeteria. 

The non-depreciable food arrived in more than 150 boxes, delivered on two pallets, donated by the two counties’ largest food bank organization, which is located in Concord. Students only had to present their school identification card in order to receive free food. 

“We are very fortunate to get one of these deliveries” amid the COVID-19 pandemic, said Todd Farr, manager of student life at DVC, as he guided students to pick up their boxes.

The food bank remains open as an essential service, and people are welcome to donate food or work as volunteers helping distribute food items to those in need. Throughout the coronavirus crisis, the DVC Student Union Center has been giving away free food about every two weeks through the school’s food pantry program.

The food has been donated or allocated through a combination of a special chancellor’s grant and purchases from the food bank, said Farr. Employees of DVC also contributed through a monthly payroll deduction to make sure students could receive the supplies they needed. 

“The food bank is a very, very good partner of ours,” said Farr.

Students can visit the DVC Basic Needs webpage, which was recently launched to help students locate different kinds of services, from affordable temporary housing to health, wellness and other mental health services. 

According to a Hope Survey conducted in 2019, 4.7 percent of students in DVC had basic needs that went unmet. Among nearly a thousand students surveyed, 41 percent reported food insecurity, 60 percent were housing insecure and 20 percent had experienced homelessness.

During COVID-19 pandemic, food distribution through the food bank served nearly 120 DVC students in March and April. The next opportunity for students to pick up free packages of food is Friday, May 22, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m at the DVC cafeteria.

Students said they felt strange standing in line, six feet from their fellow classmates on the hot Friday afternoon of May 8, looking at a quiet and empty school and wondering when they could all come back and fill seats again.

One DVC student in a face mask, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the free food was a big help for him since his income had been affected by the shutdown. He was recently laid off from his job due to the pandemic, he said, while making sure he stood six feet from others in line..