Guest column: Helping Lake Tahoe Community College students meet basic needs (opinion) | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Guest column: Helping Lake Tahoe Community College students meet basic needs (opinion)

Jeff DeFranco
Guest Column

In an effort to serve our students' most basic needs, Lake Tahoe Community College recently cut the ribbon on a new food pantry located on the second floor in the main building, to help alleviate hunger and food insecurity on campus.

This pantry will be kept stocked partly thanks to $3,800 in grant funds that LTCC's student services department secured, and also through community and business partnerships that LTCC's equity office is developing.

In addition to providing food, the pantry also will offer valuable information and connections to other local and state organizations that can help students with ongoing nutritional and other needs. Representatives from California's CalFresh Program will be on hand twice each month to provide information about how to apply for additional funds for nutritional needs.

Not having enough food to function properly is a real problem everywhere, and especially on community college campuses nationwide. Many of LTCC's adult students face serious financial challenges, forcing them to make tough choices each month about how to spend their limited dollars.

Not having enough food to function properly is a real problem everywhere, and especially on community college campuses nationwide. Many of LTCC’s adult students face serious financial challenges, forcing them to make tough choices each month about how to spend their limited dollars.

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In these circumstances, when rent is due or if a car unexpectedly breaks down, basic food needs may not be met. This certainly has a negative effect on college drop-out rates, and also on daily classroom performance — it is very difficult to learn and retain new information when you're distracted by hunger.

According to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, humans have basic physiological needs that must be met in order to survive and thrive. These include things like food and water, sleep, clothing and shelter. If these needs are not met, the human body and mind cannot function fully. Anxiety and tension increase, which has a seriously detrimental effect on learning.

LTCC's food pantry will not only help our most challenged students meet one of the most basic of human needs, but will also help them avoid having to make hard budget decisions that may leave gaps in meeting their other basic needs.

This is a very real and fundamental good that we're now providing, and it's another example of what putting students first looks like at LTCC.

We hope that many of you will be inspired to pick up a few extra groceries when you shop to help keep the pantry shelves full year-round. Monetary donations also are greatly appreciated. To donate either non-perishable foods, hygiene products, or money to LTCC's food pantry, please contact the equity office at 530-541-4660 x. 254 or send an email to foodpantry@ltcc.edu. You can get a tax write-off for your donation — a form for tax purposes is available through the equity office. They are open Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., located on the second floor of the main building.

Thanks for reading, I'll have more of these stories to share with our community in the months to come.

Jeff DeFranco is the superintendent/president at Lake Tahoe Community College. Visit his Twitter account at http://www.twitter.com/jeffdefranco and email him at president@ltcc.edu.