The Corsair: SMC’s second annual Giving Thanks(giving) Holiday Grocery Giveaway.

Volunteers and SMC students and staff worked together to provide groceries to 1,500 students for this year’s Holiday Grocery Giveaway

By Marlene Hererra and Michael Beeson

On Tuesday, November 23, 2021, the Santa Monica College Foundation provided 1,500 currently enrolled students with holiday groceries. Josue Vasquez, a fourth-year accounting student, commuted from Koreatown, Los Angeles to attend Santa Monica College’s second Annual Giving Thanks(giving) Holiday Grocery Drive-Thru Giveaway.

The contactless event took place on the Santa Monica College (SMC) Main Campus. There, each student that signed up via email received groceries to prepare their Thanksgiving dinner. Students were given the option of taking home a turkey, a kosher turkey, or a vegetarian loaf. Josue picked the turkey, along with fresh organic vegetables like green beans, potatoes, carrots and onions, a pumpkin pie, salt and pepper, a stick of butter, and a large tin platter. He looks forward to the turkey the most, and said, “the people that just want to help out the students are really kind-hearted. They care, so that’s what matters.”

This year’s sponsors included SMC’s Associated Students, KCRW 89.9FM, Gelson’s Market and We Are Santa Monica. The event also partnered with Costco, Everytable, Whole Foods Markets, and many more for grocery donations.

The Santa Monica College Foundation’s mission is to eliminate barriers like food insecurity, to ensure academic success for SMC students. Along with hardworking volunteers, California State Senator Ben Allen was in attendance preparing grocery bags and handing out turkeys. He said, “my big fear, to be honest, is that because of financial pressures, people end up not focusing enough on their studies…we need to do more to provide the kind of support infrastructure for students to be able to confidently focus on their studies.”

According to Margaret Sohagi, Santa Monica College Board Chair, “in 2021 around three out of five college students across the United States had a hard time accessing food, housing and transportation.” Superintendent and President of Santa Monica College, Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery, “around 59% of students at Santa Monica College are facing food insecurity due to the pandemic continuing and rising food costs across the United States.”

Earlier this month, congress eliminated a proposed program that sought to make community college free, as part of President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” package. For many students, a college education remains unaffordable amount other issues like food insecurity and homelessness. Handing out grocery bags filled with vegetables, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla said, “we’re still trying to see if there’s a way to get it in and if not in the build back better package, then the next bill in the appropriation in the next budget. We’re gonna keep fighting.”

This year, SMC Office of Sustainability and Associated Students’ Government provided free one-way Lyft ride vouchers to students like Josue Vasquez who did not have personal transportation to ensure they got their supplies home safely. SMC’s food sustainability program is one of many different programs offered to students to ensure pandemic success. One of the programs offered to students is called Bodega, which offers clothing, food and mental health support.

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