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Friday, July 30, 2021

Behold the Brahma Pantry, COVID-19 edition

D’arcy Corwin sets up several containers of food on the side of the Los Angeles Pierce College roundabout on Brahma Drive on a Thursday morning. She awaits a line of cars. Groups of four meals are neatly bagged, boxed and ready to go.

Pierce’s Brahma Pantry and Basic Needs Program (BNP) organized a drive-through food pickup event on Feb. 25 for students in need. 

While the pantry has been operating on campus since 2018, changes had to be made because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Corwin, who leads the  program, said that despite the adjustments, she’s grateful that students are still able to get the help they need.

“It has really been a labor of love, community, and hard work to get to where it’s at today,” Corwin said in a Zoom interview. “It’s different than what we imagined before and it’s in a totally new shape and form, but I’m still very happy that we’re able to provide services to students.”

The drive-through offered four, free, chef-prepared meals, courtesy of food subscription service “Every Table.”

Though students were required to come in a vehicle, Corwin said that the pantry offered virtual grocery gift cards for those who were unable to attend the event.

Student Support Committee Chair Robert Loy said that not only were the meals affordable, but were on the healthier side too. Food assistance is not the only thing the program offers. Loy said that on top of the pantry, the service extends to other basic needs.

“We have different focus areas, whether it be food insecurity or housing insecurity,” said Loy in a Zoom interview. “We’re also talking about technological insecurity because now we’re working remotely. We’ve been doing surveys in coordination with the districts to really understand what students are going through.”

Loy also said that the pantry has been delivering meals to students’ homes since December 2020. 

Manjit Sahota, a student at Pierce, has been utilizing the Brahma Pantry home deliveries since it started. Sahota, who is a vegetarian, said that the service was convenient for him.

“Most of the stuff I saw that they were giving away in the drive-through was like chicken or other meat,” said Sahota in a Zoom interview. “I think one of them had a salad but I wasn’t going to pick up four free meals just to get a free salad. When they deliver to you, they do have the option of just vegetable bowls.”

Sahota has been experiencing food insecurity since April 2020, but like many other students, having the pantry gave him relief.

“I’m happy with their service and what they’ve done for me so far,” Sahota said. “The Brahma Pantry and having someone like D’arcy on your side is kind of encouraging me to not quit college. It’s a thumbs up.”

The next Brahma Pantry drive-through event is scheduled to be on March 25, 2021 from 12 noon to 2 p.m. Students interested in registering can contact D’arcy Corwin through her email at corwind@piercecollege.edu.


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