By Dylan Head
Needed relief is now available for hungry Cuesta College students and staff forced to choose between gas or food.
On the third tuesday of every month this semester, the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County will be on campus, passing out bags of much-needed groceries to any qualifying students and staff.
“We identified a need in the student body at Cuesta,” said Anthony Gutierrez, coordinator of student life and leadership at Cuesta College. “When asked, close to 200 students said they would use the help if it was available.”
While his office sent out emails and published links onto the MyCuesta website, it is imperative for students to spread the word of this service, Gutierrez explained.
The need for this service was evident in Cuesta’s south county campus, as lines formed before distribution began.
One of the main goals for of the Food Bank’s food distribution on the Cuesta campuses is to provide a nutritious balance of healthy foods. Fresh produce is the key component to the meals that students receive; last year, half of all produce distributed by the food bank in the county was fresh produce.
“We focus on not only providing food, but nutritiously dense food for students,” said Wendy Lewis, chief operations officer for the Food Bank Coalition.
Lewis was also quick to stress the ease of qualifying for aid. As long as students fit into the income guidelines listed on the food bank’s website, they will qualify for aid. This is a vast improvement over the previous approval system, where aid applicants would have to bring pay stubs and receipts to prove that they were hungry, Lewis remarked.
“Sometimes, asking is the hardest thing to do,” Lewis said.
Food bank employees also work to educate aid recipients on food nutrition. Recipes that can be made from the ingredients found in each month’s food is given out. Samples, such as oatmeal energy bars, are provided for people to try.