City College’s EOPS/CARE program is providing single parents and their families with grocery store gift cards for this Thanksgiving season.
In past years the program distributed boxes filled with traditional Thanksgiving items to single parents. This year they switched to gift cards so families can choose their own meals and limit gatherings.
“It was typically everything to prepare a full Thanksgiving meal with your family. It was a turkey, a box of stuffing, butter, gravy, cranberry sauce, potatoes, carrots, rolls, a pumpkin pie, and Cool Whip,” said CARE and Single Parent Student Program Advisor Chelsea Lancaster.
Last year due to the Cave Fire, the EOPS/CARE program decided to switch to $50 gift cards in order to make it accessible to everyone during that time.
“Frankly not everyone prepares Thanksgiving dinner,” said Lancaster.
This year they decided to do it again by giving out $75 gift cards to students who are self-identified as single parents through the EOPS/CARE and CalWORKs.
Gift cards give the students opportunities to make their own culture’s traditional foods.
“A lot of our students like to make tamales with their families, so maybe they [will] choose to buy ingredients to do that,” Lancaster said.
The EOPS staff miss the personal connections of giving food to their students but this new method has received a positive response.
“We really love the symbolism of giving away the actual food. That felt really good but we also kind of have to lead with students in mind,” Lancaster said.
This year, the program is able to supply 100-125 families with gift cards that are redeemable at Vons. Community members can donate to the Thanksgiving Dinner Giveaway through the SBCC Foundation.
“Thank you to our campus community for showing our student parents and their children that they are cared for, [and] that we care about their well being,” Lancaster said.
Through hardships, the EOPS staff and volunteers keep up this tradition because “It’s really about creating a culture of care on campus. It’s really about letting our student parents know that they’re loved, that they’re thought about,” said Lancaster.