By: Sarina Galindo
Many students have trouble balancing finances. It can be difficult to pick and choose between tuition, textbooks, rent and food. The Dolphin Pantry was created to assist students experiencing food insecurity. The pantry, started by a student while completing a service learning project, provides packaged and refrigerated items to any CI student.
The food pantry was initially in an Ojai Hall closet but eventually the Wellness Promotion & Education program started helping as well. At that point the pantry increased in size from a closet to an office with a fridge with many donations from stores and people. The pantry at CI has been relocated to Arroyo Hall, room 117 and is open Monday- through Friday 8:30am-4:30pm.
Ana Tougas is one of many who helps and manages the pantry as students come and go. Tougas looks into new places which can supply food and basic essentials. The Dolphin pantry is staffed by faculty members and volunteers. Tougas pointed out that many resources are available to students experiencing food insecurity, including Cal Fresh benefits and local food pantries.
The pantry was previously called Food Pantry but after student surveys were conducted it was changed to Dolphin Pantry because many students thought if the pantry included the word food in the name, it might make students feel self-conscious. People at CI and the local area have come together to donate time, food and products to help. For example, Peter Maher, the Director of Food Services and Executive Chef, helps with packaging and handling food as well as Nic Manocchio, Chef De Cuisine and many others outside of the Islands Cafe. Several Farmer’s Markets donate fruits and vegetables when they can and Walmart donates feminine hygiene products.
“This is a place of giving,” said Ana Tougas. “This is not a hand out but a hand up.”