SAN MARCOS — For more than three decades, Palomar College has been helping members of its student body and their families who don’t have enough food.
Over the years, that food pantry has outgrown the digs.
On March 9, the school broke ground on a project that will expand the food pantry, which dovetails with the school’s mission of doing all it can to help students complete their degrees.
Board members and district officials ceremonially moved the dirt of the Anita and Stan Maag Food & Nutrition Center.
“Many of our students live paycheck to paycheck, and often must decide between rent, gas, food, clothing, taking care of their little ones and taking care of their partners,” said Sherry Titus, director of student affairs at Palomar. “We need them to stay in school, and we need to provide the resources to help them stay in school.”
The district opened a food bank in 1983. Currently, eligible students can access the food bank once per month on an emergency basis by completing an application. Food is distributed according to the number of immediate family members in the household and availability of items.
The college sources its pantry supplies from the North County Food Bank on Rancheros Drive in San Marcos.
Fueled by the recession, officials said the program has outpaced the size of the current building. By noon on the current Thursday distribution schedule, there is a line of students out the door waiting to receive assistance.
Funded by a $400,000 donation, the center will replace the college’s faculty and staff lounge in the Student Union area of the San Marcos campus, according to a news release.
Currently, the food pantry only carries dry goods and produce that can’t be kept longer than a day because of a lack of a refrigeration unit. When the new center finally opens its doors, workers will have a refrigerator for keeping produce and dairy, as well as a staging room to accept pallets of food.
Palomar College trustees Nina Deerfield, Mark Evilsizer and John Halcón, student trustee Chris Hopp and College superintendent/president Joi Lin Blake participated in the groundbreaking.