A new food drive location has opened up at Chabot College to address food insecurity in Hayward. The new site will serve as a drive-thru, no contact food distribution.
Chabot’s student-led organization, FRESH -Food, Resources, and Education to Stop Hunger- Food and Life Pantry, has partnered with the City of Hayward to battle hunger in the community. The food drive is hosted every Thursday from 11 a.m to 1 p.m.
Food insecurity in the Bay Area has risen dramatically in recent months due to widespread layoffs related to COVID-19’s impact. Millions of people have had to limit themselves to pay for basic necessities.
Roughly, 4.6 million California residents are facing food insecurity, according to CalFresh, which helps millions of families afford food each month. On average, 1 out of 8 people don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
The food drive at Chabot offers fresh produce, canned and dry goods, and dairy products. All resources and free to anyone in the community. Each distribution is based on the number of people in your household.
FRESH first began to serve the community in May 2017. Previously, FRESH had hosted a farmers market-style food distribution twice a month, with food provisions from the City of Hayward and the Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB). By the end of July, the City of Hayward had reached out to Chabot’s FRESH to make a plan for a food drive distribution.
Besides ACCFB, Sewa International, Columbus Meats, and Hope 4 the Heart have all reached out to Chabot to help with food donations.
FRESH serves, on average, 3,700 individuals and 800 families a week. Of those, about 163 of them are students at Chabot. Sofia Sanchez Pillot Saavedra, a former student at Chabot, was one of the student organizers for FRESH. She started officially as a FRESH staff last year after graduating from UC Berkeley.
Sofia would often ask herself, “Why are our students hungry?”
She noticed that when she was a student at Chabot that there was a demand for students needing food. “Food is such a basic thing. If they’re not eating how do we expect them to learn?”
Traffic control, along with food distribution, were some difficulties FRESH had to workaround during this year with the addition to COVID-19. Many people would show up early in the morning, that it would trickle down closer to the main road. FRESH would then need to decide as to whether or not to open early to alleviate traffic congestion, according to Sofia.
It’s been a work in progress, but now “we’re pretty good at being able to estimate how much to distribute to each car, to make it stretch throughout the day,” Sofia said. “If people come around 11, they’re guaranteed, whereas if they show up after 12:30, we might or might not have enough food.”
The food drive has been very beneficial to the community and its students, according to Sofia. “If the students’ families are struggling, so will the students. I think Chabot partnering with the City of Hayward is a great thing because we are serving very similar populations. Our students are not separate from the community, they are a part of it as well.”
For potential volunteers at Chabot, you can help out during the Thanksgiving week distribution on Tuesday, November 24th, and during the Christmas week distribution on Tuesday, December 22nd.
Please contact Zach Ebadi from the City of Hayward if you have any questions, or are interested in volunteering.