Free breakfast sees student increase

By Cindy Pantoja, Opinion Editor

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With classes in full swing and food insecurities on the rise, the demand for the Free Breakfast Program at Contra Costa College has increased 40 percent this fall.
The Free Breakfast Program was launched by the Associated Students Union (ASU) on Feb. 28. Its purpose is to provide a free hot breakfast to students on campus Monday-Thursday from 8 to 10:30 a.m.
“Basically, this program was built out of necessity, trying to address the need that students have here on campus,” ASU President Alex Walker-Griffin said. “A lot of students come here early, and they usually skip breakfast, the most important meal of the day.”
Students on campus struggle to get a meal for different reasons, he said. It could be because they don’t have enough money to buy it, or it could be because they have to work and they didn’t have enough time to cook the night before.
No matter what their reasons, any student can take advantage of the Free Breakfast Program, where they are never interrogated about their motives.
“It is really helpful to have a free breakfast every day,” undecided major Juan Reyes said.
The program works on a ticket basis, where students are issued a ticket after they sign in with their student ID number on a computer located at the Student Life Office in SA-109. This ticket can be exchanged for a hot breakfast at Pronto.
“I love the free breakfast because it is convenient to get it between my morning classes,” student Emily Cardoza said. “I have an 8 a.m. class so I get my breakfast at around 9 a.m.
The content of the breakfasts depends on what the culinary arts department prepared that morning. The options range from an egg burrito to potatoes with eggs. If students want a pastry, coffee, or juice to pair with their meal, they have to cover the difference with their own money.
Calleen Lawrence said, “I eat the free breakfast four times a week. I like it because I come to school and I don’t have to worry about cooking before getting here.”
Originally, the Free Breakfast Program was intended to serve 100 hot breakfasts a day with the help of the culinary arts department, but the demand has consistently increased this fall.
“We are working every morning with a culinary student force of five people, including myself,” culinary arts instructional assistant Angel Chau said. “We are serving about 140 breakfasts a day.”
Walker-Griffin said when students are not worried about where their next meal will come from, they can focus on school work. That is why the ASU is doing everything possible to reduce the food insecurities of students on campus.
ASU Director of Public Relations Preston Akubow Onwvemeka said, “Budget-wise, we are not concerned about the increase in demand. In fact, we are trying to get the word out. The goal is to serve about 200 breakfasts a day next year.”
SparkPoint offers help to student who struggle financially, providing them with guidance to navigate the governmental programs to receive assistance. It offers workshops that teach students to manage their money provide care packages with toiletries for students in need.
“We help students evaluate how they might be eligible for other kinds of public benefits such CalWORKs or any number of the dozens of programs available out there,” SparkPoint coordinator Bill Bankhead said.