Program offers students help with groceries


Emanuel Espinoza

The CalFresh program held a table by the cafeteria on Thursday to inform students about their program. CalFresh Event Manager Jansen Engelbrecht (left) and CalFresh Event Representative Erin McMichael (right) giving information about the program to students.

The CalFresh program visited campus on Thursday to help students with financial help for groceries.

Michele Steiner, interim director for Hawk Cares Center for Basic Needs and Housing Resources, said CalFresh is a program that helps students who are on a limited income to afford fresh groceries.

“Los Rios has a very strong investment in ensuring our students’ basic needs are met and CalFresh is easily accessible to our students,” Steiner said. “Throughout the district, we’ve all made a big push to educate our students on CalFresh, what it is, how it works and how they can apply for it.”

Steiner said CalFresh had always been available to students, but after the pandemic, it has become a bigger barrier for students to purchase food.

“We’ve always had this resource available, but we needed to do more to get the information out to students,” Steiner said. “Which is why you’ll see more of these tabling events throughout campus as we go through this semester and the summer and fall semesters.”

According to the California Department of Social Services website, individuals and families of the program are given options to purchase groceries online using an electronic benefit transfer card at stores such as Walmart, Amazon and more.

Despite the frigid weather, CalFresh Event Manager Jansen Engelbrecht and CalFresh Event Representative Erin McMichael had set up a table between the Hawks Nest Bookstore and the cafeteria. They had folders with information for the program and also had students take a quiz with multiple-choice questions.

CalFresh had toured other campuses in the northern California area, Engelbrecht said.

“We’ve done several colleges in the northern California region and we hope to be back at CRC soon,” Engelbrecht said. “We’ve been to American River College, Folsom Lake College and we’re hoping to be at Sacramento City College.”

McMichael said they were promoting CalFresh to college students to let them know they may be eligible for these benefits in paying for groceries that they don’t have to pay back. In other words, “financial aid for food.”

Sunny Mackey, an 18-year-old studio arts major, said she was familiar with CalFresh because her father had applied for it and received some benefits from it.

“I think it could benefit me because I am not very good with money, so I think I could use all the help I could get,” Mackey said. “I think CalFresh is a very useful program and I am glad that a table is set up because there are a lot of people who don’t know about this that need it.”

Eighteen-year-old pre-nursing major Skylar Ensslin said she was also familiar with CalFresh because it was mentioned in a foods and nutrition course she took in ninth grade and learned that it was a food source for Californians.

“I would see the benefits in giving people a little more help with groceries, especially college students struggling to pay for their classes and other college expenses,” Ensslin said.