DVC Food Pantry Continues Serving A Student Community in Need


Photo courtesy of DVC website.

Takeshi Kawata, Staff

During a recent produce giveaway at Diablo Valley College, a student named Yali said her weekly visits to the school food pantry have enabled her to cut living expenses as she attends DVC and UC Davis. Another student, Juan, said the pantry helped him support his food-insecure single mother and his siblings. A third student, Sierra, said the free food made it easier for her to survive since moving out of her parents’ house.

The DVC Food Pantry has served thousands of students since opening its doors in March 2018, helped by a partnership between the college and the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. More than a thousand people visited the pantry in October alone – a number that’s on par with student demand prior to the pandemic.

Now, according to Dietra Prater-Slack, the food pantry’s program assistant, that demand is expected to grow as DVC begins transitioning back to in-person learning in 2022.

The county food bank “provides our food at discount rates” and “[participates] in upcoming Free Fresh Produce distribution days by providing complimentary produce and pre-boxed food at no charge to the college,” Prater-Slack wrote in an email to The Inquirer.

On a more regular basis, the pantry “serves as a free supplemental food resource for all students who may need it,” according to its website.

Open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the pantry offers bags of nonperishable food staples to anyone who shows up. According to the pantry’s website, visitors are requested to “please wear a face mask and remember to bring a rolling cart to help transport groceries.”

First-time visitors to the pantry are also asked to fill out a brief, confidential “Online Intake Application Form.

Produce distribution days like the one that Yali, Juan, Sierra, and others attended recently at DVC occur about once a month, and feature bins of avocados, cucumbers, bell peppers, and assorted fruits.

At that event, an anonymous recipient said their family “recently grew from three to nine people through immigration,” and while they work full-time, “the food pantry helps support the family in a significant way.”

Prater-Slack said she spoke to a woman from Afghanistan, who currently lives with her family of 12, and came away from the conversation feeling “incredibly touched to be able to help them.”

“Today, we were able to serve not just our students, but our community,” she said.

The DVC Culinary Program also recently partnered with the food pantry to begin providing take-home meals that are pre-portioned to feed families of four.

According to the food pantry website, more than two in five DVC students “experience low or very low levels of food security… [affecting] students’ ability to concentrate and focus on their academic studies. Students also struggle to balance proper nutrition with paying college tuition.”

Members of the DVC community can get involved by participating in volunteer opportunities with the food pantry or by giving donations here.