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The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

CalFresh informs City College students about food insecurity assistance
The Sacramento Food Bank and Sac City’s RISE program are now partners providing food distribution every Wednesday, noon-4pm, in front of the SCC College Store. Photo by Ryan Middleton | Photo Editor | [email protected]

by Patrick Gabbett | Staff Writer | [email protected]

In the campus CalWORKs application room, a variety of people shuffle in, answer questions, fill out paperwork, and wait. A petite blonde woman with a Slavic accent. An older, dark-skinned man in a turban. A Latina mother with her child. They are just some of the people seeking food assistance at City College.

CalFresh representatives set up a few informational booths on campus Jan. 30 to educate students about the assistance available to them. Among the representatives was Kelly Siefkin, vice president of communications and marketing with Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services (SFBFS).

Roughly 230,000 people in Sacramento County experience food insecurity, according to Siefkin, many of whom are students. Recently, SFBFS partnered with CalFresh to reach out to students in need on the City College campus.

“I’d like [students] to know that all the resources are free and tremendously valuable and helpful,” said Siefkin. “CalFresh can make a huge difference for a student, an individual, a family. The process is pretty quick and easy. By finding out the number of individuals living in the household as well as income, in under five minutes we can pretty much assess whether or not you qualify, and we have people who can do it with you.”

In addition to CalFresh, SFBFS also helps sustain the RISE food program on campus, where students can apply at the RISE office at RHS158 to receive weekly food assistance on Wednesdays.

Only 157,000 of 230,000 CalFresh-eligible individuals in Sacramento County receive benefits, according to Siefkin. Accessibility and knowledge are certainly roadblocks, but a very present issue is stigma.

“I think we have an idea in our head often of what hunger looks like, and that’s not really the case anymore,” said Siefkin.
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Behind her, the weekly RISE food distribution bustled with activity, and students paused to look and even talk with the people at the CalFresh stand.

“I think most of the individuals who show up for assistance, they don’t actually look any different than we do–especially if people are subsisting on a lot of things that are nutritionally poor,” said Siefkin.

“I think when one student makes it look less scary, others will follow suit. It’s a peer pressure thing,” said Siefkin.

Nyla Vaivai, a RISE Student Personnel Assistant, has strong feelings on the nature of the current economy for students. “I know if students didn’t have to pay for books and education, yadda yadda, they’d be able to buy food and sustain food in their kitchen.”

Kaitlyn MacGregor, City College Public Information Officer, said she was pleased with the turnout, and hopes that students will continue to utilize the sources for food the college offers.

CalFresh employees will be on campus Thursdays to help students apply and get informed, outside the CalWORKs office at LRC120, according to MacGregor.

“A lot of [reducing the stigma] is students talking to each other, talking about sometimes we all need a helping hand,” MacGregor said. “The No. 1 thing is to check into it if students are facing any type of food insecurity, to talk to RISE, to talk about CalFresh, to take advantage of the opportunities that are here for them. There’s no reason to be nervous or hesitant.”

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