Food pantry addresses high demand for services

It’s 1:50 pm, 10 minutes until the Hawk Spot, Cosumnes River College’s food pantry, opens to students. Several students are already gathered outside while a student leadership center worker finishes the last of setup.

A large sign is displayed outside the front door, with the words “1 visit per week” printed in bold font.

It has been about a month since the food pantry made a change in regulations and how they operate, creating a new system of premade bags and limiting how many visits a student can make.

“The first two weeks were kind of like a trial for everybody because we really didn’t know the best way to service the students; we were trying to find out what it was going to be,” said Diana Atkins, a student ambassador.

When the Hawk Spot first opened, students could come in as many times as they wanted and take as much as they needed. However, by the end of the day, Atkins said there was “minimal supplies” due to the high traffic during the day.

“We changed the system to make sure we last through the week,” said Student Personnel Assistant Yesenia Castellon. “We wanted to be conscious of the students who come later in the day. So now, before we open, we have a few bags already packed and ready.”

For the students running the food pantry, they have seen a positive impact on the procedures since changing the way they run things, such as Castellon, who says things are moving in the right direction.

“Our feelings towards giving haven’t changed,” Castellon said. “And in doing that, we had to think about the broader student population and whether we’re serving enough people.”

Right before opening time, over 20 pre-made bags are assembled by Freddy Mande, a 24-year-old computer science major and graphic designer for the Student Life and Leadership Center.

“By tomorrow, it’ll be empty. A lot of people come on Monday,” Mande said, gesturing to the bags that almost completely cover the floor.

Each bag is loaded to the very top, overflowing with bread, cereal, canned goods, ramen, juice and much more.

“It’s actually a lot faster, in terms of operationally,” Castellon said. “We can just give and go, give and go.”

A student who wasn’t previously signed up for the Hawk Spot walked away with a premade bag of needed supplies in less than a minute and a half.

Alongside Freddy Mande, there was another student helping unpack the deliveries from the Elk Grove Food Bank, but he didn’t work for the SLLC.

“We’ve been blessed with a volunteer who comes and unpacks and shelves,” said Atkins.

Brandon Phung, a 19-year-old English major at CRC has been volunteering at the Hawk Spot since the food pantry opened.

“I try to come every Monday, well, pretty much every day of the week,” Pung said.

His help in the food pantry has been appreciated by all of the student leaders who help run the service.

“He’s that staple that always comes through with whatever we need,” Castellon said.

Cosumnes’ food pantry is open on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 2 to 4 pm at T-111. Any student enrolled in at least one class can register to use the food pantry.