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Monday, October 19, 2020

Brahma Pantry continues to provide services to students

The Brahma Pantry’s plans to help students during the school closure extends to more than just providing food. The pantry is still providing services despite campus being closed.

Brahma Pantry and Basic Needs Lead D’arcy Corwin wrote in an email that the pantry has had to adjust its services.

“We are currently available via email, Zoom and phone to provide case management support services to connect students to programs that meet their basic needs such as food, housing, clothing and health services,” Corwin wrote.

Corwin said that students could enroll in their program using their website, where students complete their Welcome Form.

“Once there, students can complete our Welcome Form to indicate their specific needs, and they can complete our Appointment Request Form to request ongoing appointments as needed,” Corwin wrote.

She said that students could also connect with the pantry via Canvas using their self-enroll link and through Cranium Cafe, where Corwin is available to chat with students Monday through Thursdays from 10 a. m. to 3 p. m.

Corwin mentioned that the pantry has partnered with Campus Navigator Program, which helps students who are housing insecure.

Brigette Zarazua, the point of contact for Campus Navigator Program, wrote in an email that Campus Navigator Program’s purpose is to connect community college students who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness with resources that can end their housing crisis.

“One in five community college students experience housing instability each year,” Zarazua wrote. “In recognition of this reality, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors authorized funding via Measure H to support the implantation of a Peer Navigator Program in which is a fairly new program that just started in 2019.”

Zarazua said that the program’s objectives include connecting students to community resources, improving linkages between colleges and homeless services providers across Los Angeles County, streamlining the referral process and increasing communication and partnerships.

“While Pierce College is closed right now, The Village Family Services is still assisting via phone with housing programs,” Zarazua wrote. “We also help with other resources, such as finding food pantries, job opportunities, and utility assistance.”

Center for Academic Success Director Crystal Kiekel said in a Zoom interview that it is essential her tutors have information about the Braham Pantry and other student services to know where to refer the student.

“We’re concerned right now about how people are getting access to critical services,” Kiekel said. “We understand that people are getting a ton of emails right now, and they’re probably in everybody’s on information overload. Sometimes, an email is not sufficient. So, we talked a lot about what services are available and the best way to get those services to students.”

Kiekel said that what she appreciates about Corwin is that she understands that it’s not just about the shortage of food that has students feeling insecure. It’s about addressing the holistic needs students have.

“If you go to the Brahma Pantry website, you see on the welcome form to help students connect with all kinds of sources like housing, showering and mental health care,” Kiekel said. “Connecting to job services and so on, which is a beautiful thing, and we’re just so lucky to have her.”

Kiekel said that helping students succeed academically starts by making sure that students’ holistic needs, such as making sure they have enough food or a place to live, come first.

“I’m really pleased with the fact that we have a Brahma pantry and that we have D’arcy, who has that understanding that a student is a person first and a student second, and that to thrive as a student, we need to be thriving, as people,” Kiekel said.

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