To help students in need, Los Angeles City College and the Los Angeles City College Foundation launched the Food for Thought program during the fall semester in 2018.
The Food for Thought Pop-Up Food Pantry, designed like an outdoor farmer’s market, is open to all students twice per week and offers free fresh produce, frozen fish and meats, packaged cereals and snacks and dairy products. The Food for Thought Program also provides meal support for students during midterm and final exam weeks with prepared meals or food vouchers at the LACC bookstore.
With support from the Angell Foundation, the LACC Foundation began collecting data to determine whether a positive correlation exists between use of Food for Thought program services and student success. The initial data shows a significant increase in semester-to-semester gains for students who use Food for Thought program as compared to the college-wide average.
“Our Food for Thought program is an example of how we address a growing student need by leveraging resources and partnerships,” said Dr. Mary Gallagher, president of LACC. “This is a model that can be replicated all or in part by an institution who feels the same urgency I do. After the first year of implementation, we have confirmed what we intuitively knew … by feeding our students, we are helping them achieve academic success.”
Gallagher presented information about the program’s success at the California Higher Education Basic Needs Alliance 2020 Summit on Feb. 7 in Orange County. From spring 2019 to fall 2019, students who used the program persisted at a rate of 79%, compared to the college-wide persistence rate of 55% for the same semesters. Persistence rates are based on students with graded credit enrollments in both semesters. In regard to units taken per semester, 62% of students using the Food for Thought program completed 12 or more units during fall 2019, as compared to only 20% of students college-wide.
Survey data collected by Los Angeles Community College District indicates that nearly 65% of LACC students cannot consistently afford food, and as many as 20% experience homelessness.
“Far too often our students worry about where their next meal is coming from, and that’s a big problem. When their basic needs are met, however, it should come as no surprise that they can concentrate on their studies,” LACCD Board President Andra Hoffman said. “I am very grateful that Los Angeles City College and its Foundation are collaborating with other organizations to help meet their students’ food needs so they can achieve their higher education goals.”
For information, visit laccd.edu.