The COVID-19 pandemic paused several in-person services for students most in need at College of the Canyons but members of the institution’s Basic Needs Center, or BaNC, and the Rotary Club of the Santa Clarita Valley partnered Saturday to gather and sort out Thanksgiving food items for them.
An estimated 20 vehicles stopped by the Valencia campus to drop off food and other basic items, enough to prepare at least 50 bags to distribute on Thanksgiving week, according to Michael Joslin, associate vice president of the student services at COC. Bags were also expected to include gift cards should students want to purchase a turkey.
“Our students, in normal times, they’re food-insecure and even more so now,” he said. “We’re not going to solve anybody’s food insecurity. That’s an economic issue, but we can help address it and this will help with a nice Thanksgiving meal.”
Among those who donated Saturday was Valencia resident Beate Baker, who brought everything from canned goods to body lotion.
“You just never know who’s in need,” he said. “I just want to contribute, especially right now with the pandemic, because people are hungry.”
Saturday was one of several COVID-modified food-distribution events where several hundred students have attended, according to Joslin.
“Students would drop by on their way to class hungry, saying, ‘Hey, I have a test coming up — I have no nourishment.’ And we’d say, ‘Here’s this grab-and-go,’” said Joslin. “But with COVID, we’ve had to switch gears.”
The food drive comes as the Rotary Club raised $4,750 in grant funds for BaNC and another $4,750 for the college’s culinary school for student scholarships, according to Rotary Club President Glenn Terry.
“The relationship (between COC and the Rotary Club) started about a year ago after having lunch with (COC Chancellor) Dr. Dianne Van Hook,” he said. “We talked about this project that’s about, really, ending homelessness.”
He said the Rotary Club plans on continuing the partnership to continue helping more students.
“It’s about coming together as humans and helping each other,” said Terry, “and it’s the only way we’re gonna get rid of (homelessness), conquer homelessness.”