City College’s Basic Needs Center reopens its drive-thru distribution

From left, student worker Aida Pouye hands at-home COVID-19 rapid tests to students Coral Burton and Norah Bajari while Program Assistant Randy Smith (middle) oversees the operations on Wednesday, Feb. 2 at Parking Lot 5-1 on City College’s West Campus in Santa Barbara, Calif. “It’s really helpful for those who don’t have a lot of time for shopping, are tight on money and always working,” Burton said.

Melissa Garcia, Staff Writer

With classes being back online, the Basic Needs Center has reopened its drive-thru food distribution for the City College community. 

The center provides non-perishable food items on Tuesdays from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. and Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the West Campus Parking Lot 5-1.

Fresh produce and snacks are available as well, all donated from the Food Bank of Santa Barbara County. They will also be offering at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests and menstrual/hygiene kits depending on how many are in a household.

This is the second drive-thru distribution in Santa Barbara that is associated with the Food Bank.

“One thing I have noticed that has changed is seeing more homeless clients. It shows the food insecurity that exists in our community and the need to address it,” Substitute Student Program Advisor Alondra Lazaro Gonzalez said.

The services are offered to the whole community and are not just limited to students attending City College. It is not required to get a COVID test or be fully vaccinated in order to receive a box as it is a contactless transaction. 

“It humbles us and it feels very rewarding to be able to provide a service for the community,” Gonzalez said.

On the first day of reopening the drive-thru on Jan. 25, all of the goods were completely distributed within two hours.

“It is very fulfilling to help people with basic needs and to get to be a part of something big in the community,” said Franciele Pereira, a student worker.

There are usually around 150 boxes available at each distribution. Additional boxes are also prepared for students on City College’s sports teams who practice during the distribution hours. 

“It is very helpful since not everyone drives, or is working right now,” City College student-athlete Alonzo Cruz said. “It makes it very easy and convenient for the students.”

There are also boxes reserved for the night crew and custodians who are not available at the given time to get a box. Custodians are given boxes for themselves and the night crew, and they are also given extra boxes to give to student-athletes who practice at night.

“It is a comfort to the community, welcoming and loving, and I am always willing to help in any way possible,” Program Assistant Randy Smith said.

This semester the boxes have more inside them. Once the Basic Needs Center receives them from the food bank, they open it up and add more fresh produce and food.

The reason why the distribution is open at later times on Wednesdays is to give more people the opportunity to attend. In previous semesters, some students and community members were not able to go to the distributions due to conflicting schedules with either class or work.

The last drive-thru food distribution will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 16, since City College is scheduled to return to in-person classes starting Feb. 22.