West Hills College Coalinga Falcon Food Pantry: Meeting Students' Needs Beyond the Classroom

There are over 2.1 million students enrolled in the California community college system, and almost 50% of these students are not getting the food they need. At West Hills College Coalinga, the Associated Student Govern­ment is helping combat student hunger with an on-campus food pantry.

Opened in Spring 2018, the WHCC food pantry pro­vides essentials to students in need. “Any West Hills College Coalinga student enrolled in one class can make an ap­pointment to visit the food pan­try,” said Jay Darnell, West Hills College Coalinga Food Service Manager. “Students may request as many appointments as they need. Our service is based entirely on the student’s stated needs.”

To help support the WHCC food pantry, the WHCC Associated Stu­dent Government has held several food drives in Coalinga.

The West Hills Community College Founda­tion has support­ed campaigns that have collect­ed monetary donations for food purchases.

“Most of the food in our pantry is purchased from the Central Califor­nia Food Bank,” said Darnell. “Dry foods like beans, rice, boxed, and canned foods are readily available in the Food Pantry.”

“West Hills offering students no-cost food when they need it is a big deal,” said West Hills College Coal­inga Student Cesar Flores. “Being hungry in class as a student affects you a lot because you focus on your stomach and your hungriness instead of paying attention in class.”

Helping students thrive in the class­room is one of WHCC’s main objec­tives. “We understand that outside factors often impact our students’ success in the classroom,” said Pedro Garcia, West Hills College Coalinga Coordinator of Student Support Programs and Engagement. “Food insecurity is something many of our students face, and our on-campus food pantry helps with this problem.”

In addition to food items, the WHCC ASG also has clothing and hygiene items available for all students in the pantry. Items available to students include cold weather and professional clothing, personal hygiene products, and deodorant.

“In addition to food, we focus on meeting our student’s essential needs,” said Garcia. “We hold community clothing swaps on-campus that have been extremely successful and make sure our clothing and hygiene pantry is stocked. When students have food in their stomachs and have the things they need to live, they are more likely to retain the information they are learning in the classroom, which helps them succeed.”