Schiff Visits Local Community Colleges To Fight Food Insecurity

Photo by Julian MITCHELL
Representative Adam Schiff addressed the issue of food insecurity on college campuses at a recent roundtable.


Rep. Adam Schiff met with local community college leaders last week to discuss student food insecurity. His roundtable featured faculty and students from Glendale Community College, Los Angeles City College and Pasadena City College.

Food insecurity is an ongoing issue for many college students. With most time dedicated to studies and not earning a paycheck, finding a cheap and nutritious meal is not always easy.

  “You can’t really focus on learning when your stomach is growling,” said Erika Summers-Degen, a PCC student.

With that in mind, Schiff started a bill to help alleviate some of those worries for students. He spoke with community college representatives to gather information to share with his congressional colleagues.

Schiff’s proposed bill is called the “Food For Thought Act” and is still in its very early stages. The bill would allocate $6 million in funds to be provided to eligible community colleges across the nation between 2020 and 2023. Eligible schools would be determined based on applications submitted by each school and then judged on class size, socioeconomic status of the student body and location, among other factors.

“Community college is one of the most powerful engines for social and economic mobility,” said Schiff during his opening remarks.

Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees President Andra Hoffman cited studies that showed many college students skip meals on a weekly or even daily basis. In meeting college expenses, many students are on a tight budget and cannot find the time or money to get three meals each day.

LACC recently started its own pop-up food bank each Monday called Food For Thought. Although it has started to help students who have food insecurity, Hoffman still believes that it could benefit from Schiff’s proposed bill.

LACC student Samuel Emmanuel had been having a difficult time finding access to cheap and nutritious food. He was very surprised when he came to school one day and there was a free food bank.

“To get food on a weekly basis has been very important,” he said.

PCC has a much more established program on its campus. The food bank takes in large amounts of food each week and redistributes it to those in need.

PCC Superintendent Erika Endrijonas said that many students use the pantry to shop not only for themselves but for their families as well. Additionally, PCC hired a social worker to help establish better ways to improve students’ lives through the food pantry.

Schiff’s bill addresses many aspects of food insecurity. It requires that schools only spend 20% of grants on infrastructure and the rest must go to getting supplies that benefit students. Additionally, after two years, a report must be delivered to congress for reevaluation. The maximum that any school can receive will be $200,000.