by Annie Kuzmanovic
Fresh starts begin with fresh ideas, and here at CI, programs geared towards students can constantly be changing to fit the students’ needs. The Basic Needs Program is planning to update their program this fall to make it more effective and accessible for students.
The Baisc Needs Program’s website defines this program as one that “… (provides) support to students experiencing a basic necessity insecurity”. Associate Dean of Students Chelsee Bente shared that in the past three years Baisc Needs Program has been growing their program to include a food and hygiene pantry, a hot meals program, emergency housing for up to 10 nights and emergency funds for students who are struggling financially. This year they are making changes to their subprograms, as well as adding a couple of brand-new ones.
First, the hot meals program is changing this academic year. “There are two meals loaded on each card which provides students with meal options at the Islands Café,” Bente said. There used to be three meals on each card, but this year they will decrease it to two so that more students can utilize the program. These meals were donated to the Basic Needs Program by last years graduates. The meals donated totaled $14,245.79
Second, the Basic Needs Program is hoping to launch a new food app sometime this fall that can connect on-campus event-planners to food-insecure students. With the app to notify these students, the food leftover from an event can be easily available to them.
Next, they would like to make clothing available at the Dolphin Pantry. While Career and Development Services offer interview attire to students who may not own them, the Basic Needs Program would like to provide graduation attire and gowns, as well as winter clothing to supplement students’ wardrobes with necessities.
Lastly, the number of nights a student can stay on the Basic Needs Program’s budget is increasing for the next two years. “Last year, we sought out a grant with the county and we were able to secure $53,110 that will place students in a motel off campus. This will provide students up to 15 nights of emergency housing.” It gives the student more nights to have a place to stay, while also giving the Baisc Needs Program more weekdays to work with the student towards finding a more long-term secure housing situation.
There are a handful of free opportunities that they offer financially-insecure students, including CalFresh, a program that can add $193 to a student’s monthly budget for fresh and healthier food options.
Bente wants students to know that even if you do not qualify for certain areas of the program, the Basic Needs Program still wishes to meet with you and come to some sort of solution that meets your needs. “We try to be very accessible for students who need the program and need the resources,” said Bente. “Of course, it’s not a one-size-fits-all, so we’re constantly evaluating and working with students and what might be best for them and their situation.”
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