By Jerusha Kamoji
In an effort to address food insecurity among college students, City College partnered with the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank and held its first Rams Food Market on January 29 – free to all students every Tuesday from 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m outside of the Ocean campus amphitheatre.
Faculty and student volunteers began the morning with event setup and food distribution, with produce ranging from broccoli and sweet potatoes to onions, granola and sparkling water.
“I think there’s about 15 items on offer today and it will be different every week,” said Jonathan Siekmann, a nutritional instructor at City College.
The majority of the food comes from small farms in Central Valley, with additional produce stemming from Safeway and different markets, according to SFM Food Bank representative Tina Gonzales.
“The idea is that it’s fresh produce,” Siekmann said. “Not only is it nourishing and satisfies hunger, but these are things that are important for a healthy diet.”
For Siekmann, food security means a student is able to eat three meals a day that are culturally and socially appropriate and nutritionally adequate, but for many students that is not the case.
Among 1,100 students enrolled in English courses on Ocean campus, 41 percent of respondents qualified as food insecure, according to a 2017 survey conducted by the City College Food Pantry Workshop. The number of those considered food insecure increased if they had children.
The Rams Food Market is part of the ongoing Food Shelves program organized by faculty members in the English and Behavioural Sciences department. Produce for the Food Shelves was purchased at the end of the fall semester in 2017, however the program itself, took off during spring 2018.
The Food Shelves program began shortly after faculty members started bringing food from their homes to give to hungry students, some of whom they noticed were struggling to do well in class. In doing so, many teachers realized the overall severity of the issue and started to network.
The network consists of several Food Shelves in different buildings on campus where students can grab up to two items per day. However, unlike the Rams Food Market, the Food Shelves mainly consist of snacks.
“When students were approached by faculty members, they mentioned the thing they need is a sufficient meal,” said Amey Coffey, who works as a management assistant in the Student Activities Office.
Despite serving thousands of students with the Food Shelves program, it is difficult for Coffey to know whether levels of food insecurity have decreased among campus students without conducting a more recent and comprehensive survey.
“We expect that with the presence of Rams Food Market and the Food Shelves, we will be able to address a lot of that food insecurity,” she said.
Even though the Rams Food Market is in its early stage of development, Siekmann hopes to make the market a regular presence at City College.
“I would love to see a dedicated space, ideally indoors with longer hours and multiple days of the week where students can come in,” he said.
A common challenge voiced by faculty members at the market was student aide. There are many tasks to do once the food gets delivered to City College. “Basically anywhere from 7 a.m. until probably 11 a.m. we would have space for students interested to volunteer,” Coffey said. “We understand that students may have classes and can’t stay for the whole time so we can kind of work with their schedules.”
Students interested in participating or volunteering must complete a Rams Food Market survey which can be accessed online or at the market. A City College student ID number is required to collect food, which is on a first come, first served basis.
For any questions or further information on the online survey, please contact Amy Coffey at (415) 452-5169 or via email at email@example.com.