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Sierra College’s Nevada County campus offers free food pantry

For many studying at Sierra College’s Nevada County campus, the term “starving student” hits a bit too close to home.

Observing a growing number of its students facing food insecurity, Sierra College has begun its second year of offering an on-campus food pantry for those in need. A pantry is also open on the school’s Rocklin campus.

Anita Bagwell, supervisor for the Nevada County campus’ Student Success and Support Program, said the school is doing everything it can to address the issue of food insecurity within its student body.

“We have enough food just for snacks for the day or for a meal to take home or for food over the weekend,” Bagwell said. “Our ultimate goal would be to hook them up with CalFresh with EBT cards and connect them with the people in our area who actually do that professionally and far better than we could.

“We’re just trying to make a dent of it while they’re here on campus and help them become more food secure.”

Demand is high and the pantry is always in need of more donations. It is most in need of snack bars and other nutritious snacks. Some who visit the pantry, Bagwell said, may not even necessarily face hunger consistently. The pantry is happy to welcome anyone on campus who may be hungry, even if that means they just forgot to eat breakfast.

“For our food pantry here at (Nevada County campus) we have said, help yourself,” Bagwell said. “If you have a need, take what you need. Don’t go to your test hungry.”

Other items the pantry needs more of are cans of soup that are easily opened with a pop-top, stews and hearty items that are easily prepared by students who are just learning how to cook.

Since some face housing insecurity as well, Bagwell said that items that require a number of kitchen utensils are not as desirable.

Those who experienced an abundance of produce from their summer gardens are also asked to consider donating to the pantry.

“Some people leave fresh produce which I put out on the shelf,” Bagwell said. “If they have a recipe that they want to put with their produce that would be great.”

Since school started Aug. 20, approximately 75 students have already taken advantage of the food pantry and Bagwell expects many more to do so as the semester progresses.

Last week the campus held a Fall Welcome Days event at which they handed out 85 meals containing fresh produce and a canned good with a recipe included, for whoever wanted it.

“We’re trying to de-stigmatize the need and let people come and get what they need,” said Bagwell.

Donations are accepted at the Sierra College campus Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Fridays 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. in rooms N1-208 or N1-112. Bagwell said there is plenty of free 30-minute parking and that her staff is happy to help donors unload items from their vehicles. For more information, call the Sierra College Nevada County campus counseling center at 530-274-5300.

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at jnobles@theunion.com or 530-477-4231.

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