By Petre Motiu
With COVID-19 throwing the orientation of our society on its head, many have made the adjustment of being productive within their own homes. For the students who have used the Basic Needs resources before, such as the Dolphin Food Pantry to gain access to meals as well as single food items, these solutions have been unfortunately discontinued. This is due to an enforcement of quarantine from the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, and the address of action from President Erika D. Beck this past March. However, in spite of these recent events that have affected the lives of every student, faculty and staff at CI, our communication tools have taken center stage in order to bridge the gap of students’ needs.
“While the campus has shifted to a virtual environment the services provided by the Basic Needs Program have adapted.”Hannah Dineley, a Basic Needs Assistant
Speaking to students who have utilized these resources in the past, Max Castro, a senior English major, had taken advantage of the Dolphin Food Pantry before the coronavirus pandemic. Recently, he has had to use Canvas to get the latest information. “(The English Department) provided links to various basic needs services, so that was nice of them. But I haven’t had to utilize them just yet,” said Castro. “They have been pretty good with keeping people in the loop.”
When asked about what services were offered in the Canvas email, Castro listed off the essentials. “On Canvas, they have a module titled Support Resources (which includes) financial, academic and emotional. And, it has links to unemployment benefits, basic need resources for COVID-19 (which) includes the local food pantry, Cal Fresh, grants, online counselling and so forth.” said Castro.
These resources made available to students virtually have been the result of a massive undertaking from the Basic Needs Program at CI as outlined by Hannah Dineley, a Basic Needs Assistant that works for the program. “While the campus has shifted to a virtual environment the services provided by the Basic Needs Program have adapted.” said Dineley. The service has made a comprehensive solution package of information to guide students who need its benefits the most, such as emergency housing. “Governor Newsom issued an executive order on March 27 banning the enforcement of eviction orders for renters affected by COVID-19 through May 31. The Basic Needs Program can work with students who fear they may be evicted,” said Dineley. “Placement in a regional hotel is available at no cost to a student.”
Students are not the only members of our society that feel the effects of the pandemic. Family members also face challenges of trying to provide for their own well-being as well as loved ones. It is a tossup between the danger of leaving a household and risking infection or not finding needed supplies to maintain a good level of health and wellness.
“There are times when certain things are sold out. Masks are pretty hard to come by sometimes.” said Castro. “There is always the thought of somebody leaving the house, getting sick and then bringing it back. I live with five other people. If one of us gets sick, then the whole ship goes down.”
The Basic Needs Program also provides an excellent way for families to secure food for themselves in this public health crisis by accessing CalFresh. “Students are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment and the Basic Needs Assistant will assist a student through the application process and help answer questions,” said Dineley. “CalFresh is California’s food stamps program that puts money in your pocket to provide you on-going healthy and nutritional food assistance at participating grocery stores and farmers’ markets.” If the unfortunate reality of students are denied the services of CalFresh, then they are eligible for a gift card disbursement to grocery stores, according to Dineley.
The Basic Needs program has also a presence on popular social media platforms, such as Instagram, with sharing resources and news as well as actively updating materials, resources and support on the website at www.csuci.edu/basicneeds/resources according to Dineley.
In the end, it is up to the level of commitment to keeping one’s health that will serve as an effective guide through this turbulent time. “The funny thing about that is I have little brothers and I don’t think they’re taking this as seriously as we had hoped,” said Castro. “ I don’t think the alert is as elevated as other people.”