Strawberries, potatoes, cereal boxes, and hot burritos are available in the Food Pantry for City College students in need of a meal or a midday snack.
The food pantry started off as a small cupboard with minimal food goods in the EOPS office and was later moved to its current location in East Campus Classroom 6 after it began getting large donations from the food bank.
“We went from having myself working in the pantry to having to ask for a fourth person to help out,” said Raymond Carroll, a staff member of the Food Pantry.
Students all over campus have reported using the pantry during times of food insecurity.
“I mostly go to the Food Pantry because I don’t have a lot of money. It helps me to have lunches every day,” said Nate Alisago, a City College student. “Taking advantage of every resource possible is kind of the name of the game when it comes to college.”
According to Carroll, the Food Pantry grew into more than just a place to get free food. It is a community that cares about students and locals.
“I think it’s just almost a community center where you can come and relax, maybe get some food or conversation,” said Randy Smith, an employee at the pantry. “Everybody is so helpful here and it is a positive environment and that thrives.”
The pantry gets most of its food from the Santa Barbara Food Bank, with other products occasionally coming from stores like Trader Joe’s and Ralphs. The pantry also receives produce from the college’s student-grown gardens. The pantry also offers burritos on Wednesday and Fridays while supply lasts.
When a truck from the food bank stops by to make a delivery, students and volunteers usually help unload the truck and restock the pantry before getting in line to get their own free food.
“The Food Pantry makes life a lot easier by not having to get groceries during the week,” said Hannah Watkins, a City College student. “It also helps with all the expenses college students have.”
Recently, City College added a monthly food share to the program which gives away free vegetables, fruit, dried and canned food for students and Santa Barbara locals.
“The same equity department is in charge of the food share,” Carroll said. “It is the same but just on a larger scale, like a farmers market.”
Everyone is welcome to get food from the pantry, whether they are a City College student or not, Carroll said.
“I absolutely benefit from the food pantry,” said Tom Gaglio, a City College student. “I’m able to save money, which I don’t have, on overpriced cafeteria food. Over the years they cut down on the quality and quantity of the food in the cafeteria, so I really think the food pantry is a big aspect.”
According to Carroll, the main focus of the food pantry is to build a community and to make the pantry a space to walk, have a talk, and grab a quick bite or a make-at-home meal.
“They are important to us, and we are to them,” Carroll continued. “This is family.”
This story has been corrected to address two errors. Raymond Carroll is a staff member of the pantry, not the director. Also, the pantry offers burritos on Wednesday and Fridays while supply lasts